Legislation mandating paid sick leave in Massachusetts would stifle innovative employer benefit programs, reduce overall benefit levels for workers and prompt businesses to avoid creating new jobs here, AIM told a Beacon Hill hearing today.
“While many supporters of these bills claim that they are filed in the interest of the employer community and that their passage will make for a more productive workforce, AIM believes that decisions regarding any benefit provided to employees should be left to the discretion of the individual employer based on economic circumstances, the size of the company, the nature of the employment relationship with each employee and the competitive environment,” AIM Vice President of Government Affairs Bradley MacDougall wrote in testimony to the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.
AIM opposes two bills that would require Massachusetts companies with more than six employees to provide paid sick time. The association and thousands of its employer members who already offer sick time voiced opposition to similar legislation last year that Legislators eventually sent to a study.
Advocates are now working to put the question on the 2014 statewide ballot.
The sick leave proposals would mandate that businesses with fewer than six employees offer up to 40 hours of unpaid time to workers. Businesses with six to 10 employees would be required to offer up to 40 hours of paid sick time, and businesses with more than 10 employees would be required to offer up to 56 hours of paid sick time.
Employees would be eligible for an hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. Employers with more than 10 workers would be required to comply with the proposal within six months, and all others would have a year to conform their policies to those required in the bill.
The bill would leave an employer with 20 workers facing up to 140 lost work days per year due to state-mandated paid days alone, in addition to the holidays, vacations and personal days currently provided. And all companies would have to administer the law the same way - for example, the law would make attendance incentive policies unlawful.
MacDougall said the proposed mandates would eliminate popular benefits such as paid time off, which combines all paid time off (vacation holidays, sick time, and personal time) into one “bank” of days that can be managed and used by the employee for any purpose without reporting the specific reason.
The mandates would also strain the financial capacity of many employers.
“Reality is those Massachusetts employers have limited resources. This proposed legislation would have a ripple effect and most immediately impacting Massachusetts families and employees by lost hourly work, decreased benefits or job loss,” MacDougall said.
“Long-term, Massachusetts would be a place where companies will avoid creating jobs or worst will leave.”
A manufacturing company in western Massachusetts maintained that competitive employers already provide generous benefits to workers:
“Ultimately, the customer is everybody's boss, and company management and company employees are partners in meeting customers' needs. In this regard company owners and managers are very much aware of how important a part the overall wellbeing of company employees plays in this equation and they do as much as they possibly can, given the economic constraints of the marketplace, to offer a comprehensive employee compensation package that will provide a solid standard of wellbeing for all employees,” the employer said.