MANDATORY PAID SICK LEAVE
March 31, 2006
If passed, two Washington state legislature proposals -- House Bill 2777 and Senate Bill 6592 -- will mandate that every employer provide a minimum amount of paid sick leave for each employee and instruct all businesses to give full-time workers paid sick leave, says Carl Gipson of the Washington Policy Center.
Nearly 46 percent of all firms already offer paid sick leave, and nationally, no state requires paid sick leave as a matter of law. But this legislation will force all businesses to change their employee benefit system, hitting businesses with fewer than 100 and 50 employees the hardest, says Gipson.
Proponents argue that workers need to supplement their income for days lost at work due to illness; however, employers cite several reasons why they do not always offer paid sick leave, says Gipson:
- Many jobs are retail or jobs where an employee's absence is covered by a fellow co-worker.
- Some jobs are dependent on a system of gratuity and paying an employee to stay at home would be a massive blow to the business's bottom line.
Moreover, many companies have adopted flexible new ways of handling employee absences, says Gipson:
- Businesses now combine an employee's sick time with paid vacation time and label it Paid Time Off (PTO).
- PTO allows the employee to decide when, and under what circumstances, paid leave should be used.
- Additionally, blanket regulations -- that apply one rule to every business -- are detrimental to the economy; most businesses have some sort of paid sick leave or PTO policy, but they should never have a single, one-size-fits-all rule levied against them.
Furthermore, these regulations will increase expenses for small businesses and make our business climate even less attractive to local and out-of-state business ventures, says Gipson.
Source: Carl Gipson, "Mandatory Paid Sick Leave - Another Ailment for the Small Business Climate," Washington Policy Center, January 2006.
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