Getting Down to Business (October 2013)
October 04, 2013 | Liz Ben-Ishai
Getting Down to Business: News on Employers and Paid Leave
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 let your area businesses know 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.
Last month, Jersey City became the latest city to pass an earned sick days law – and the third this year, joining Portland and New York City in victory. The District of Columbia, Seattle, San Francisco and the state of Connecticut already have sick days laws. The bill moved rapidly through the City Council, supported by the mayor, local advocates, and business owners. In a letter to the editor in the week leading up to the bill’s passage, small business owner Phillip Stamborski wrote: “Guaranteeing workers paid sick time will promote public health, strengthen the economic vitality of our city, and help small businesses thrive.” Read more about Jersey City’s Win >>
Advocates in Newark, NJ hope to join in Jersey City’s celebrations very soon. A campaign for earned sick days is well underway in the state capital, and many businesses are jumping on board. Although some big business lobbyists are pushing back, John Whiten, deputy director of New Jersey Policy Perspective, says their critiques aren’t based in reality. He writes, “New Jersey’s business lobbyists oppose earned sick days only because they ideologically oppose any kind of government regulation, not because it will actually do harm to businesses or the economy.” And in an op-ed, Councilman Carlos M. Gonzalez, who introduced Newark’s sick days legislation, explains, “Businesses should welcome this law. Workers in cities and states that have guaranteed sick days haven’t abused them and their economies are doing well. Newark’s business owners will benefit from lower turnover as well as healthier and more productive employees. It’s a law that will strengthen families, protect the public health and safeguard the workforce that is the backbone of our city’s economy.” Read more >>
One year after the implementation of Seattle’s earned sick days law, businesses are doing just fine, thanks. Last month, the small business group Main Street Alliance released a report demonstrating that Seattle’s job growth and new business formation are strong as ever. The report received considerable media attention in Seattle. Joe Fugere, the owner of Tutta Bella, a restaurant in Seattle, described his business’s experience with the law: “Employees are happier than they ever have been, our customers are happier than ever and the bottom line is better than it [has] ever been.” Read the report >>
Tacoma residents have watched as nearby Seattle has successfully implemented its earned sick days law. Now, the city’s businesses and workers are ready to bring this vital workplace protection to Tacoma. In a recent op-ed, Diane Inman, co-owner of Positive Approach Dog Training, shared her experience with sick days. Since providing her employees with the opportunity to earn paid sick days, Inman writes, she and her business partner have been “surprised and pleased to find our business running better because of this policy.” As a result of the “environment of respect” it creates, turnover is low and “we spend far less money, time and energy hiring and training new employees.” Read more >>
Eleven of the D.C. City Council’s 13 members have cosponsored a bill that would extend the right to earn paid sick time to tipped restaurant workers in D.C. The bill, which was introduced last month, would strengthen the city’s existing law, which currently excludes some of the city’s most vulnerable workers and requires a period of employment of at least one year before those who are eligible can begin to use sick time. A Washington Post article reporting on the introduction quoted restaurant owner and paid sick days supporter Andy Shallal. The owner of Busboys & Poets and Eatonville restaurants, Shallal explained, “When I talk to my restaurant friends, the one thing they ask often is, ‘Will people abuse it?’ But that hasn’t been our experience.” Read more >>
Vermont’s earned sick days campaign held its kick-off news conference at Red Hen Bakery, a local business that offers its employees paid sick days, and supports the state’s bill. The event featured speeches from several state representatives who plan to cosponsor the House bill, as well as former governor Madeleine Kunin. Shortly after the launch, Vermont State Senator Anthony Pollina urged concerned employers to consider the positive outcomes for business in jurisdictions that have previously passed earned sick days bills. The campaign already has plenty of support from business, including two dozen companies and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR), which has more than 1,200 members. Read more >>
Blue Bottle Coffee Company owner, James Freeman, submitted testimony in support of Massachusetts’ earned sick days legislation. Freeman described his experience implementing San Francisco’s sick days law. Blue Bottle also has shops in Oakland, CA and New York City. After the San Francisco law passed, Freeman began to offer all of his workers sick days, regardless of location. Freeman wrote, “Providing our workers with the support they need to recover from illness without risking financial security is an important retention tool that works: our workforce turn-over rate is low.” Read the entire testimony >>
A plurality of small businesses support paid family and medical leave insurance funded by small contributions from both employers and employees, a new poll from Small Business Majority reveals. The results of the poll were released on Friday September 27th; that day, SBM president John Arensmeyer joined U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. The senator spoke about her plans to introduce legislation to create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program, as well as other initiatives to boost the economic security of women and families. On a panel following the senator’s remarks, Arensmeyer gave voice to small businesses, many of whom already offer some forms of leave to their employees. According to the SBM poll, there are more small businesses that are supportive of a program like the one proposed by Gillibrand than there are opposed. Also on the panel were executives from Google and Deloitte, large businesses that have generous policies in place to support their workers as they strive to both care for their families and do their jobs.
In an editorial last month, Bloomberg View endorsed the idea of a national paid family and medical leave insurance program. The business-oriented publication said introducing federal legislation to create such a program would be “an opportunity to build support for a good idea.” The piece welcomed the start of “a conversation about how to provide American workers with the flexibility they need to manage family needs.” Read the editorial >>
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