No one can be opposed to “An Act To Prevent the Spread of H1N1” unless you have to pay for it. The bill before the Maine legislature (LD 1665) will provide employees paid sick leave. No one can argue that it makes sense for employees to stay home when not feeling well. The last thing anyone wants is to have someone preparing or serving your meal who is not well—and that’s what happens when the choice is between staying home and not receiving pay or working sick because you can’t live without your paycheck. It is a terrible choice to have to make.
Unfortunately, as noble as they bill may be, as right as it feels, it is bad policy because it undermines the businesses it purports to support and that ultimately hurts all employees. Small businesses cannot afford this mandate. This bill will also be an administrative nightmare to manage, particularly on top of the other leave policies mandated under state and federal law. Managing time-off policies are not easy. Employers still struggle making sense out of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and that’s been around 18 years! And to make matters worse, no other state has a paid leave policy like this proposed bill—putting Maine employers at another competitive disadvantage.
One can empathize with any workers who has to work sick. Unfortunately, the downside of this bill is much too great. The timing is wrong and the bill is bad. Maine should walk away from it now.