Thursday, August 14, 2008

Even California thinks paid sick leave is a bad idea

California is uniformly thought of as the most liberal employment law state. It is often the test ground for new employment laws and theories. Yet, paid sick leave could not even make the grade in the Sunshine Golden State. According to the Angeles Times, California's paid sick leave measure died in its legislature:

A state bill to guarantee paid days off for sick workers died Thursday amid opposition from business lobbyists and lawmaker concern that the benefit was too costly.

The bill would have granted employees of small companies in California up to five days of paid sick leave each year. Workers at larger firms could take up to nine days a year. ...

Small businesses and their lobbyists who fought the sick-leave measure said they were relieved that it failed. They estimated that the bill would cost 370,000 jobs in California and would burden employers with $4.6 billion in new costs over a five-year period.

The bill "unfairly presumed that small-business owners are able to provide paid sick leave and don't want to," said John Kabeteck, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. "That couldn't be further from the truth. The fact is that many want to but simply can't afford it." ...

If the proposal had become law, California would have been the first state in the nation to provide universal paid sick leave. But it would have eroded the state's ability to attract new employers, said state Chamber of Commerce President Allan Zaremberg. Ma's proposal was high on the influential business lobby's annual list of "job killer" bills.

Do these themes sound familiar? Ohio's legislature has already rejected the Healthy Families Act. California has now done the same. If California, whose economy is much more robust than Ohio's, is concerned that a paid sick leave mandate will erode that state's ability to attract businesses, what will the same measure mean for Ohio?