The Hidden Cost of Paid Sick Leave
Apr 04, 2013 | 12529 views | 0 0 comments | 503 503 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I have a friend who works for the state and has always had a negative opinion about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). He often cites the abuses of the law, which protects employees who need to take time off for family or medical reasons.

The law was passed in August of 1993, and with the exception of the Clinton budget, it was one of the only big items President Bill Clinton pushed through in his first term. Now the City Council is moving on a law that will require employers with more than 20 employees to offer paid sick leave.

Clinton’s thinking on the issue was that there were so many people with either no insurance or limited insurance that there needed to be some pro-family legislation to protect employees that had little clout. He knew that trade unions were losing muscle, and this was a way to get around that.

Critics said FMLA would cripple the economy. We know that it did not. The problem, some 20 years later, is that the law leaves some gaps for abuse. Employees do not always have to offer a detailed reason for taking this leave, and if they do, it is often required some time after they already took the time off.

Do some people use this around the holidays when it is harder to get regular time off? Perhaps, but the law has not killed the economy. It could, however, be fine tuned a little.

The reason we care about this law is because it is similar to the law the City Council favors by a two-thirds majority. The mayor does not like the bill, which requires small businesses to offer paid sick leave. He feels it will negatively affect small businesses.

Of course it will negatively affect them, but it will most likely not run them out of town. There is, however, a hidden cost to this legislation: it could put pressure on employees in a backhanded way.

Employers cannot fire a person for taking time off, but they can find ways to hold it against employees if they wish. If employees taking sick leave starts to adversely affect a business, this is going to change the employer-employee relationship.

Maybe employees will begin to get fewer increases in wages as employers have to now pay for when they are not at work. There is also the risk that employers will lay off employees to stay under the minimum number in order to avoid the law.

In the end, nobody deserves to lose their job if they, or their children, are sick. As long as these laws are closely monitored to seek out abuse, they will not damage the economy or run businesses out of town. The mayor will most likely veto this bill, but it will pass (maybe before Wednesday) with an override.

NYC AIDS Memorial on the Way

The AIDS Memorial Park Coalition and The New York City AIDS Memorial’s Board of Directors have settled on a design for what will eventually be a memorial in memory of the thousands of New Yorkers who died of AIDS.

The structure is a steel walkway that leads to St. Vincent’s Hospital Park. In a large city like ours, this is an important memorial. The design is also sensible and would fit nicely, as it leads into the park.

The coalition for this memorial is in the stage of building capital to fund it.

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