Getting Down to Business: News on Employers and Paid Leave (May 2014)

May 02, 2014

Getting Down to Business: News on Employers and Paid Leave
May 2014
In This Issue

Getting Down to Business is CLASP's monthly update on business and paid leave news. If you have news you want to share with your colleagues around the country, let us know. And be sure to tell your area businesses about Better Workplaces, Better Businesses, a website that aggregates news and research related to business and paid leave and highlights business supporters of paid leave from around the country.


Seattle Audit: Business Leaders Support Paid Leave
Seattle’s earned sick days law is a hit with city businesses. The City Auditor recently released an evaluation study of the law, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, which found that 70 percent of Seattle’s employers support the city’s 2012 sick days law, with 45 percent saying they are very supportive. The study also shows that the costs and impact on business have been smaller than anticipated. Most employers reported no effect on profitability or customer service and estimate the cost of providing leave to be about four-tenths of one percent of total revenue. These findings are good news for both Seattle and other jurisdictions implementing or considering sick days laws.

Read the report >>

FMLA Expansion: Many Exempt Small Employers Offer Leave

A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) suggests that expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would provide coverage for 34 million working Americans without putting a significant strain on business.  The FMLA provides for 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for employees to bond with a new baby, take care of a sick family member, or recover from their own serious illness. However, two in five workers are ineligible for FMLA because they work for an employer with fewer than 50 employees or have not been in their jobs long enough. This report looks at small businesses that offer at least some leave benefits and analyzes their experiences with these policies. Helene Jorgensen, one of the report’s authors, stated: “Our analysis found that small firms with leave policies that met the standards of the FMLA rarely reported any negative impacts on their business as a result of offering leave to their employees.”

Read the report >>

NYC Earned Sick Days: New Law in Effect

New York City, the largest city in the country to implement an earned sick days law, began implementation on April 1 of expanded rules enacted in the early days of Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration. The New York Times reports that Mayor de Blasio’s expansion of the law took effect with little resistance from businesses. “It’s the law and it’s the right thing to do,” said Shiv Puri, owner of the Bombay Sandwich Company. “It won’t bust the bank. It won’t put us in jeopardy.” NYC’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), the agency responsible for implementing and enforcing the law, has created a helpful website that includes information for employers and numerous opportunities for technical assistance. NYC’s DCA follows in the footsteps of agencies in other jurisdictions, which are also working hard to effectively implement their sick days laws.

Morgan Stanley: Second Exec Voices Support for FAMILY Act

A growing cadre of top business leaders is recognizing the need for a national paid family and medical leave insurance program. In a recent speech at the Japan Society in New York, Morgan Stanley Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat spoke out in support of the proposed Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, also encouraging corporations to promote more women into senior leadership positions. Porat is not the first Morgan Stanley executive to voice support for the bill; Vice Chairman Tom Nides has also voiced support for paid family leave. “A federal law that guarantees all workers paid family and medical leave is critical to supporting our people and economic stability,” he explained.  “I support the FAMILY Act because it is not only good for families and businesses, it also makes economic sense.”


Worker Safety: Sick Days Important for Worker Well-Being, Good for Business

Last month, workers, advocates, government officials, and employers marked Workers’ Memorial Week. The anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which falls during Memorial Week, is a good reminder that safe workplaces are important for both workers and employers.  Workplace injuries and illnesses cost our economy $250 billion a year in healthcare services and lost earnings, but preventative measures can minimize these costs. Workers with paid sick leave are 28 percent less likely than those without leave to be injured on the job.


AP Story: Businesses Don’t Sweat Sick Days Laws

A recent Associated Press article begins:  “As more cities mandate paid sick days for workers, the reaction from many small businesses is a big, so what?” The story notes that, although some laws have met business opposition when proposed, most business owners find these laws easy to implement once passed. Seattle business owner Ray Fitzgibbon explains that his initial apprehension proved misguided, saying: “I had used the arithmetic based on a worst-case scenario and it was scary. And in hindsight, it just hasn’t turned out like that.” Indeed, most workers do not come close to using all the sick days to which they are entitled.


Atlanta Forum on Working Families: High Road Employers Speak Out

Last month, the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau hosted the Atlanta Regional Forum on Working Families. The event included a panel titled “Family-Friendly Workplace Policies: The Business Case.” On the panel, representatives from American Income Life Insurance (AIL) and Alston & Bird highlighted the benefits to businesses of policies that enable workers to both do their jobs and care for their families, including paid leave policies. John Keliher, public relations manager at AIL, explained, “By investing in family-friendly policies, we are investing in the future of our company.”  The event also featured CLASP Deputy Director Jodie Levin-Epstein as its keynote speaker. In her remarks, Levin-Epstein emphasized the importance of working families to our economy.

See pictures from the Atlanta event >>

From the White House: Tina Tchen says, Good Business Practices Boost Bottom Line

In June, the White House, in partnership with the Department of Labor and the Center for American Progress, will host a Summit on Working Families.  In the lead-up to the Summit, regional events are taking place across the country. Last week, Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, Tina Tchen, spoke at an event in Chicago. In a related blog post, Tchen emphasized the importance of good workplace policies—not just for workers but also for businesses. Said Tchen, “Many businesses already see the competitive advantage of organizing work to ensure that women and workers with families succeed. They know policies that support women and families lead to more productive workers and help business attract and retain their best talent, all while improving their bottom line.”

Read the blog post >>

Families and Work Institute: New Study of Employers Released

The 2014 National Study of Employers (NSE) has just been released by the Families and Work Institute, which partnered with the Society for Human Resource Management.    The NSE surveys a nationally representative sample of employers (excluding firms with fewer than 50 employees) about the programs, policies, and benefits they provide.  Among the findings are that firms that have between 50-100 employees tend to offer more flexible working arrangements than larger firms; for example,  they are more likely to allow employees to take time off during the workday to attend to important family or personal needs without loss of pay and to permit a gradual return to work after childbirth or adoption.

Read the report >>

Keep up with the latest business and paid leave news on the Better Workplaces, Better Businesses website.

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