Monday, August 18, 2008

Five reasons why I'm against the Healthy Families Act

As most know, the Healthy Families Act paid sick leave mandate guarantees seven days of paid sick leave each year to employees who work at least 30 hours a week and a pro-rated number of days to employees working less than 30 hours in any workplace with at least 25 employees. Who can argue against paid time off from work? It's a benefit that most employees would love to have.

If employees dig deeper, however, they will realize that the Healthy Families Act, while attractive on its face, is not the cure-all they need for their families. In fact, it will cause more short and long term damage to Ohioans' jobs than lacking a few paid days off per year.

  1. Requiring employers to add paid sick leave is a threat to pay, benefits and jobs. The proposed mandate imposes significant added costs on employers, who in turn will be forced to look elsewhere to make up the difference. Other benefits, pay, and even jobs will be on the chopping block as businesses try to find the money to pay for sick leave. What good is paid sick leave if employees can no longer afford the health insurance that covers their sick family members because employers increase employees' contributions to counterbalance the cost of mandated sick leave?

  2. Even employers who already offer paid sick leave will be seriously penalized by this proposal. This proposal allows employees to take sick leave with little or no advance notice in increments as small as an hour or less. How will you feel if you have to cover for an employee who goes home, with pay and without notice, because he or she has an upset stomach? Moreover, this unannounced leave poses a serious threat to safety-sensitive operations like hospitals, nursing homes and day-care facilities.

  3. This mandate will brand Ohio as a job-killer. Ohio is suffering through its worst economic period in decades. This mandate will make Ohio the only state in the union with a mandated paid sick leave law, significantly driving up the cost of doing business when we can least afford it. Some Ohio companies will leave for less expensive states while companies in other states will dismiss Ohio as a potential location for expansion. In short, this mandate will kill economic development at a time when we need more jobs, not fewer jobs. What good is paid leave is there are no jobs left in which to use it?

  4. The increased cost of paying for sick leave will result in more expensive goods and services. High oil prices has already increased the costs of many goods and services. While employers in the short term will need to cut benefit packages to pay for this mandate, the long-term result will be increased costs of goods and services, as businesses need new ways try to cover the cost of paid sick leave.

  5. This proposal interferes with the established relationship between employers and employees at some of the nation’s most successful businesses. Many companies now operate under long-standing policies that provide employees with good pay and benefits in exchange for work arrangements that ensure a continued high level of production. This proposal guts the employer-employee relationship and threatens the production stability achieved during years of mutual cooperation.

Governor Strickland's efforts to broker a deal between business and union leaders appears to have failed. Unless the unexpected happens, the Healthy Families Act will be on November's ballot. It is important to keep these ideas in mind when considering this mandate, and not simply get caught up in the sex appeal of a few paid days off per year.