Two years ago when Maine was considering mandating paid sick leave, I wrote that I thought it was bad for business. I continue to believe this. As I stated then, 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 the various bills being proposed throughout the country may be, as right as it feels, it is bad policy because it undermines the businesses it purports to support and ultimately hurt all employees. Small businesses cannot afford another mandate. Mandatory sick leave will be cost prohibitive and 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 20 years!
One can empathize with any worker who has to work ill. Ideally, businesses will see that sick leave benefits, voluntarily offered, provide them a competitive advantage. But mandating it is not the right thing to do. Smaller organizations often cannot afford these kinds of benefits and another mandate could potentially put them under.
What do you think? Share your comments and opinions below.