‘Paid sick leave’ bill not business friendly
Advocacy for the business community and focusing on improving the overall business climate are key components of what the Newport County Chamber of Commerce does for our members.
Representing all types of businesses, we are particularly concerned about major legislative initiatives that could change the landscape of business in our state. The “paid sick leave” bill, coupled with the continued pressure of minimum wage increases, predictive scheduling, TDI changes and additional mandates could make it difficult to conduct business in Rhode Island.
For example, on the surface, paid sick leave sounds like a reasonable benefit. The title of the bill, Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act, while well intended, is equally problematic for employers as it is for employees. In fact, many mandated provisions run counter to best practices in human resource management and may actually detract from attracting the best talent.
Legislation would require every employer to provide employees with 1 hour of paid sick and safe leave time for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum of 56 hours a year. Unused sick/safe time must be carried over to the next year, unless the employer chooses to pay the employee for the unused time.
Additionally, if the employee is seasonal and comes back to the employer within a year, the unused sick time carries over as does the accrual of time.
New legislation would create a bureaucratic mess. There are complicated accrual formulas, postings and record keeping requirements, and the penalties for noncompliance are severe. The bill not only applies to full-time workers, but also to part-time workers, on-call workers, seasonal workers, temporary workers and student interns.
Rhode Island employers would have to incur the considerable expense to revamp and modify their payroll systems, making our state a national outlier. This is not the message we want to send after all of our efforts to improve our unemployment rate and attract national companies to our state.
The intervention of government into the normal and private working relationship between management and its employees is a massive overreach. Mandates do not promote productivity but reduce competition, stifling innovation.
Please join the Newport County Chamber of Commerce for a Rhode Island State Senate District 13 candidate debate on Thursday, June 29, from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at Belle Mer in Newport. This is an opportunity for business leaders to pose questions to our elected leaders, so they can understand first-hand how their legislation could impact the local economy. To register, visit NewportChamber.com and sign up by Monday, June 19.
The Chamber of Commerce Politics and Pancakes Series tackles the challenging business issues that will affect many of us if our voices are not heard. We are dedicated to bringing government officials and leaders to Newport County for breakfast speaking programs to discuss issues of dire importance to the business community.
We welcomed Gov. Gina Raimondo to discuss her budget as proposed for the kick-off event of this series in March, and we look forward to this debate as well as many more engaging speakers and topics of importance throughout the year.