Bad Bill of the Week: 02/27/09

HB 177 Healthy Families and Healthy Workplaces

Each year the Legislature attempts to redefine the relationship between the employer and the employee. This session is no different. This week’s “Bad Bill of the Week” is spearheaded by Reps. Alma Adams (D-Guilford), Deborah Ross (D-Wake), Dan Blue (D-Wake) and William Wainwright (D-Craven). Not content with establishing a state minimum wage, they have introduced the misleadingly named House Bill 177 “The Healthy Families and Healthy Workplaces Act.”

Only after you wade through the disingenuous “whereas” clauses in the beginning of the bill that address a laundry list of society’s ills – from domestic violence to sick children and public health – do you get to the liberals’ proposed solution: mandatory state imposed sick leave.

There are several causes for concern to the business owner in this bill. Unlike nearly every employee benefit, this mandated sick leave would actually begin on the first day of employment. State defined “small” businesses would be required to provide at least 32 hours a year while other businesses’ employers would be required to provide 56 hours a year.

While many businesses provide numerous benefits, employers would be faced with four unpleasant options in order to comply with this proposed law:

  1. Pass on the costs of this new “benefit” to their customers, thereby hurting competiveness.
  2. Decrease employee benefits elsewhere such as paid vacation, which would impact employee morale.
  3. Offset the costs by reducing employee wages again impacting morale.
  4. Get rid of some employee positions that would hurt productivity, morale and competitiveness.

None of these compelled options would help North Carolina attract new businesses from out of state.

Additional burdens would be placed on businesses that cannot have an empty chair. While most businesses can continue when an employee is absent, our ever increasing service sector is full of businesses that require a certain number of employees in order to operate, such as daycares that have to meet state-mandated staffing ratios.

The proposal also stifles any type of employer innovations such as setting up a leave policy that rewards those employees who have good job attendance by giving “personal” time off versus the out sick or on vacation model.

Interestingly, few of the bill sponsors have much business experience. The majority of them are either current or retired lawyers or public employees. Perhaps their views on state mandated employee sick days would be different if they had more experience meeting a payroll.

This article was posted in Bad Bill of the Week by Jeff Mixon on March 2, 2009 at 1:14 PM.

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