It was 2011 when Connecticut passed a paid sick leave law, and nearly three years after its implementation, more than three-quarters of employers still support it, research from the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows.
Just over half of Connecticut employers experienced cost increases associated with the law, although those with a high proportion of part-time workers were much more likely to experience higher costs. Employers with a high proportion of males in their workforces were also significantly less likely to experience cost increases. This is likely because mothers would be more likely to use the sick leave to care for illnesses of children, as allowed by the law.
Nearly nine in 10 employers had not observed any abuse of the law, which allows workers to earn up to 5 days of paid sick leave per year.
However, some business groups still vehemently oppose the principle of paid sick time, including the National Federation of Independent Business. Spokesperson Jack Mozloom says the administration costs of already enacted laws mean that many employers have had to cut back benefits or lay off staff. “Nobody wants to force sick employees to go to work, but there’s a cost that comes with that,” he says. “When someone is absent from work the work still has to get done.”
NFIB research in Massachusetts, which is currently considering a sick time law, projects “many thousands” of job losses as a result of businesses laying off workers and cutting back to cover costs of paid sick time.
However, UC Berkeley’s research data analyst at the Center for Labor Research and Education, disputes the projections.
“Every time one of these laws was debated, some people said this policy would hurt the economy and kill jobs – and every time they were wrong,” she says. “The sky-will-fall admonitions from opponents never materialized, as the laws did not hurt employment at all.”
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As eight regions across the US consider requiring private businesses to provide employees with paid sick leave, the nation’s first state to implement such legislation has analyzed its effect.