Monday, October 22, 2007

Another "this is NOT business friendly" post

In an earlier post, I mentioned how the 2008 State Business Tax Climate Index ranked Ohio in the bottom five of "business friendly" states. Curtis Dubay, a co-author of the study said, "States need to constantly be on the lookout for ways to improve their business tax climates."

Unfortunately, it seems that such advice is falling on deaf ears in Ohio as the "Sick Days Ohio" group would rather focus on creating a 'family-friendly' state.

Sick Days Ohio is the website for Ohioans for Healthy Families who identifies themselves as:

"Ohioans for Healthy Families is a growing statewide coalition of citizens and organizations who are leading the effort to make Ohio the most family-friendly state in America.

Working together, religious, community, labor, health care, professional and family groups are advocating for Ohio employees to earn paid sick days so they can take care of themselves or their family members when illness hits.

The partner groups and leaders who make up Ohioans for Healthy Families come from diverse backgrounds and different parts of the state, but they share one thing in common: They value Ohio families and believe our citizens shouldn't have to choose between taking care of a sick child or spouse and their paycheck."

They have proposed and are supporting a new law, the Ohio Healthy Families Act, that would require employers with 25 or more employees to provide up to 7 paid sick days each year. They state that the Act, "would ensure middle-class workers — the backbone of Ohio's economy — have the opportunity to earn paid sick days." Of course, the sick days would actually apply to ALL employees, not just middle-class workers, and the definition of 'full-time' in order to qualify for the 7 paid days is 30 hours/week. Oh - and having the state mandate, though law, those days does NOT equate to "earning" them.

The group has gathered around 140,000 signatures but plans to continue to gather more before submitting the proposal to the legislature in January, according to campaign manager Brian Dunn. The issue needs at least 120,683 valid signatures. After submission of the petitions, the legislature has four months to enact the bill. If it fails to do so, the Ohioans for Healthy Families coalition has 90 days to collect the same amount of additional valid signatures to place the measure on the fall 2008 ballot for a vote by Ohioans.

Some interesting components of the proposed Act:

* people who work part-time would get pro-rated days

* the sick leave would accumulate monthly and accrual would start immediately, even if a new employee might not be able to access said days until after being employed 90 days (probationary period)

* you could carry over days, but employers wouldn't be required to permit the accumulation of more than 7 per year (meaning employers could allow them to accumulate to whatever level they choose above the 7 days)

* you can accumulate and use the sick time in hourly increments

* an employer may only require an employee to provide certification from a health professional if the absence covers more than three consecutive work days, and the employee would then have to provide the employer with such certification within thirty days

* employers could be fined for not properly posting the notice of this law

* employers may not eliminate or reduce existing leave policies to comply with the provisions of the proposed law and should not be discouraged from providing a more generous leave policy

* unions could still bargain for more leave

* employers cannot use paid sick leave taken pursuant to this Act as a negative factor in an employment action, such as hiring, promotion, or a disciplinary action; or count the use of paid sick leave under a no-fault attendance policy

Wow - and those are just the highlights that do not include the record-keeping and auditing requirements. I wonder if anyone's bothered to calculate the cost such a mandate would impose upon companies.

This is NOT a business-friendly act - though it certainly sounds good on the surface. But while it may appear to be family-friendly in the short term, it has significant potential for long-term negative consequences.

I've got news for you, Ohioans for Healthy Families: If you want a family-friendly state, you need a state that first has JOBS for those families - not laws that drive businesses - and eventually families - away.

4 comments:

Hooda Thunkit said...

Maggie,

I have to agree with you on the hidden costs making this pleasant sounding idea anything but business friendly.

It could (and does) work well on a large scale, but remains a very costly burden on small businesses, the very businesses Ohio and Ohioans need.

Roo said...

Maggie - many years ago there were paid vacation days and paid sick days. Accumulation of those days would vary depending on the employer.

Then, in some widely sweeping move in the late 70s, there became PDOs (paid days off) that were accumulated and used for vacation OR sick days.

In one of my careers these PDOs were meted out at 4 hours per pay period (bi-weekly). That discouraged a lot of abuse of the program. The total? 13 days per year. Sick or vacation time. Your choice. Many would earn 8 hours time and then call off for a day. They never got above 1 day in the bank.

If this group is serious about making Ohio a 'family friendly state' then they need to realize that, by and large, life is 'friendlier' if people have a job to go to!

Tim Higgins said...

Can anyone truly doubt that Maggie has come to the proper conclusion on this latest example of compassionate interference?

If Ohioans for Healthy Families succeeds in their endeavor, they should celebrate by standing side-by-side at our borders and waving at the business and jobs as they are leaving.

Robin said...

I didn't read your entire post, but you would think that most people would be happy to just have a freaking job and a paycheck every week, instead of trying to find ways to get more... more... more.

My current job, I don't get vacation days and I don't get paid if I call off. While I would love to get paid days off, I'm happy to have a job.

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