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National News

March 27, 2013

Small business squabbles over paid sick time laws

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

Paid sick leave has run into roadblocks in other cities. Philadelphia's City Council passed its bill March 14, but Mayor Michael Nutter vetoed a similar bill in 2011. He hasn't decided yet whether he'll sign the latest bill, spokesman Mark McDonald says. In Milwaukee, voters in 2008 approved a referendum creating a paid sick leave ordinance, but it was nullified by a subsequent state law that banned local governments from enacting such laws. And in New York City, a sick leave law has stalled in its city council.

Opponents of mandatory paid sick leave say that it will hurt small businesses. Some also argue that the government shouldn't intrude in the relationship between companies and their workers.

"Any time you have a government mandate on small businesses, that take away their options, their flexibility," says Andy Markowski, director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Connecticut, where a mandatory sick leave law took effect early last year. "With paid sick leave, a business might not be able to afford a benefit package that has benefits that are generous."

It's too soon to tell what impact the Connecticut law is having on businesses, Markowski says. But he also notes that the sick leave law is one of many sources of uncertainty for companies in the state — they've also had to contend with state tax increases and they're still waiting to see how the health care law will affect them.

Among the consequences cited by opponents of paid sick time: Companies will have to pay overtime to replacement workers, financially strapping businesses that are already struggling in an uncertain economy. The added expense will prevent them from expanding, or hiring other workers. Keeping track of accrued sick time will force an owner or another employee to take time away from other critical tasks.

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