Can Your Business Afford Half a Year's Pay in Sick Leave?

Date: June 14, 2016 Last Edit: June 15, 2016

Massachusetts small business owner shares key concerns with paid family leave bill.

Can Your Business Afford Half a Year’s Pay in Sick Leave?

House Bill 4351 was recently
reported with a favorable recommendation—by a 10-0 vote—by the Joint Committee
on Labor and Workforce Development and sent to the Health Care Financing
Committee. Under the bill, employers would be required to provide 26 weeks of
paid leave for their own illness and 12 weeks of paid leave for the
birth/adoption of a child or to care for a relative, including spouse, parent,
grandparent, in-law, child, or grandchild.

Diane Giblin, NFIB/MA
Leadership Council member and president of Draper Metal Fabrication in
Holbrook, calls the proposal absolutely absurd.

“How can any business hope to
survive with this crazy proposal?” she asks, noting that the mandate would
require employers to pay up to half a year’s wages in sick time. That’s half of
the year without that employee’s productivity, but with the expense of payroll,
IRA contributions, and health insurance.

Draper Metal Fabrication
employs 12 people, and every employee is crucial to the business’ success—in
other words, crucial to generating enough revenue to meet all financial
obligations while still earning a profit.

 “As a small business, we know
we are nothing without our employees and are very concerned with finding and
keeping good help,” Giblin said. “We offer what we can afford and sometimes
even push that limit if it means retaining a good employee. I believe that most
employers are good and fair to their employees.”

However, she said, the
onslaught from lawmakers is making it increasingly difficult to stay in
business.

“Within the past several
years, there’s been a constant barrage of mandates and regulations thrown at
the small business community that have been very burdensome and troubling,” she
said. “All the while we are being told how important we are and that we are
‘the backbone of the economy’—well, our backs are breaking!”

Giblin raises several
specific concerns with the bill:

  •  Is
    there a limit to how many employees can be out at the same time?
  •  What if a business employs siblings? Can all siblings
    claim paid family leave to take care of the same sick family member?
  • How
    can a business continue fulfilling orders and obligations to customers, as well
    as meet financial obligations—such as payments on vehicle loans, equipment
    loans, monthly rent or mortgage, and insurance—all while paying for an employee
    who isn’t working?
  • How
    can small businesses pay to replace workers on family leave while still paying
    the expenses for the “ghost” employee?

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