Survey: Paid sick leave laws hurt employees and local economies

Nicole Lafond Contributor
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Paid sick-leave laws can hurt some employees and local economies, a recent survey by the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) found.

EPI is a nonprofit research institute funded by businesses, including those in the restaurant and hospitality industries. It does not disclose its donors.

A total of 156 employers in Connecticut — the first state to implement a statewide paid sick-leave law — were surveyed between April and October 2012. The results were not representative of all of the businesses in the state, but shed light on the challenges businesses have faced in Connecticut after the implementation of the law, EPI’s press release on the study reported.]

The sick-leave law requires employers of businesses with 50 or more employees to allow workers to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Employees can accrue a maximum of 40 hours of sick leave per year, according to Connecticut’s Department of Labor.

Overall, 70 percent of respondents said the new sick-leave law is not good for business, according to Michael Saltsman, research director at EPI.

To account for the cost of the law, 31 businesses that responded to the survey cut back on employee benefits or reduced their paid leave rates. Twelve cut back employee hours, with six reducing employee wages.

“Though a limited sample, our survey documents the actual experiences of employers who’ve had to adapt to the cost of a new mandate, by raising prices, reducing benefits and cutting employee hours,” Saltsman told The Daily Caller.

Saltsman said the results should serve as a “cautionary tale” for cities considering similar measures. “They’re clearly not a cost-free endeavor,” he said.

But a leading advocacy group for family-friendly workplace policies, Family Values at Work, was quick to dismiss the results of the EPI study.

“The truth is, this so-called report is little more than the opinions compiled by business lobbyists. As the authors of this document admit, the findings are anecdotal, self-selected and self reported,” Family Values Executive Director Ellen Bravo told TheDC.

The survey’s data collection began in April of 2012, Bravo noted — that’s four months after the implementation of the law, and before most full-time workers could have used any of the sick days earned, she said.

“Paid sick days remain a common sense measure that will help American families care for their loved ones and themselves and still have money to pay for the basics, thereby bolstering small businesses,” she said.