HB1’s earned paid sick days standard will benefit Maryland businesses

Though a lobbyist for "small businesses" whines about the alleged disaster of state-mandated paid sick leave, actual small business persons embrace HB1, a law passed this year with a veto-proof majority. Gov. Hogan's deadline for vetoing, signing or adoption by inaction for HB1 is in just a few days. We can tell him to do the right thing -- sign it.

 

As Gov. Larry Hogan’s deadline for acting on HB1, earned paid sick leave, approaches, a well-timed dog-whistle of an op-ed urging Hogan to “keep his promise” to small business persons and veto the bill has appeared courtesy of Maryland Reporter. Mike O’Halloran, the Maryland State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), argues that the Legislature is “running interference” against Larry Hogan’s vow to make the state more business-friendly. What the legislators actually did earlier this year, by a veto-proof margin, was to run interference for 700,000 Maryland workers – many from poor and working families – who now have to choose whether to go to work sick (including in food service) or get well. Astonishingly, O’Halloran claims that legislators are attempting to mandate the amount of time off an employee can take from their job.” He raises the specter of job loss, citing a study that was – commissioned by the NFIB, imagine that.

The Working Matters coalition, which has worked for five years to reach this goal, points out below that many small business owners will find the effects of HB1 a leveling of the playing field and look forward to the workforce stability that comes with secure and well-treated workers. And they offer a chance to let Hogan know why you and 80 percent of Marylanders think he should sign it.

/Working Matters/ With five days left until the May 27 deadline, Marylanders are still awaiting a decision from Governor Hogan on the Healthy Working Families Act. If adopted, Maryland would join the growing number of states and localities across the nation adopting earned paid sick days standards in order to establish family-friendly workplaces for a 21st century economy.  That’s because earned paid sick days aren’t just about lifting up workers, but lifting up businesses too.

“The Healthy Working Families Act is a fair and reasonable solution to a very serious problem – one that benefits workers and business owners alike,” said Liz Richards, Director of the Working Matters Coalition. “Studies show that implementing earned paid sick days increases a business’ productivity and helps their bottom line.  For a strong Maryland economy, we urge Governor Hogan to do the right thing and allow HB1 to become law.”

Day 3: HB1 allows Maryland businesses to reap the benefits of earned paid sick days

Over 50 Maryland businesses have signed onto the campaign for earned paid sick days here in Maryland, in addition to a number of business coalitions like Main Street Alliance and the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Council who have partnered with Working Matters. Business owners spoke in their own words why they believe earned paid sick days are the right thing for Marylanders:

“Just from an efficiency standpoint, things are more efficient when people are taken care of and have time to heal.” – Zach, owner of Jack and Zach Food

“I already give my employees sick days. Every worker should have that right.” – Marsha, owner of Aww Baby Organics

“We support families. And we think they should have sick leave so they can support themselves.” – Sabrina, owner of RoofTop Hot

“Paid sick leave for employees makes for a healthier work environment for everyone.” – Benn, owner of Atomic Books

“Many who provide earned sick leave voluntarily are tired of competing with business who do not do right by their employees. Many employers who do not provide earned sick leave want to do the right thing, but are afraid that they may not be able to compete with firms who do not provide earned sick leave. We can help both these groups of business people by passing a strong earned sick leave bill.” – Craig Beyler, former business owner

Erik Retting, the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Director for Small Business Majority, recently co-wrote a Working Matters blog post with Ed Snodgrass, owner of Emory Knoll Farms in Street, MD, explaining the business benefits of earned paid sick days:

Paid sick days laws are supported by many small businesses. In fact, Small Business Majority’s scientific opinion polling found half of small business owners nationwide support measures like HB 1.

Many small business owners support guaranteed paid sick days because that employee benefit contributes to a healthy business climate. Studies show that earned paid sick days are good for business owners’ bottom lines by providing long-term cost savings. As the National Partnership for Women and Families noted, workers who “have paid sick days need less time to recover from illnesses and spend fewer days in bed overall than workers without paid sick days.”

Another study showed that “presenteeism,” or employees under-performing due to illness, costs employers $160 billion per year – twice as much as the cost of absenteeism due to illness. Ultimately, the cost of an employee coming into work sick outweighs the cost of them staying home a day or two to recover.

What’s more, paid sick days can lead to better productivity and lower employee turnover rates. In Maryland, the Institute for Women and Policy Research has estimated that providing earned paid sick time is expected to yield $132 million annually for employers due to reduced turnover. Those benefits were borne out in Jersey City, N.J., where more than 40 percent of employers who changed their policies to comply with the city’s earned paid sick days law found that it “increased productivity, reduced turnover and/or led to better hires.” And while some have claimed policies like these can be job killers, in states that have passed earned paid sick days standards, like Connecticut, California and Massachusetts, unemployment actually went down in the year after those laws were implemented.

Maryland businesses like Emory Knoll Farms are an example of the positive benefits that come with offering paid sick days. The Street-based business provides employees with generous benefits, including paid sick leave. Offering paid sick days increases employee retention, which in turn benefits the farm’s bottom line; after all, hiring and training new employees constantly is a costly endeavor. What’s more, when employees show up sick for work their output declines and they may even get other employees sick. This certainly decreases productivity.

The bottom line is that making paid sick days a universal practice will ensure that small businesses like Emory Knoll Farms can’t be undercut on costs for doing right by their employees and will be in a better position to compete with larger businesses.

Hogan has referred to small business as “the backbone of our economy.” If he truly feels that way, he should sign HB 1, a law that would reinforce this economic backbone by evening the playing field for small businesses.

If Governor Hogan allows HB1 to become law now, Maryland businesses will have a full six months to plan to implement this smart policy, which would take effect on January 1, 2018, rather than having to hastily implement the law if it’s sent to an override vote in the 2018 Legislative session. The benefits of earned paid sick days are clear, and Maryland cannot afford to wait. It’s time for Governor Hogan to sign the Healthy Working Families Act.

Follow updates at www.earnedsickdaysmd.org and stay tuned for Hogan Watch Day 4 tomorrow.

Everyone gets sick, but in State of Maryland, not everyone has the time to get better. The Healthy Working Families Act (HB1) would allow over 700,000 Marylanders without any earned sick leave the ability to take time off work to care for their families when illness strikes. The result of five years of compromise and careful deliberation with stakeholders at all levels, HB1 would allow 488,000 Marylanders working at businesses with 15 employees or more to earn paid sick days, and allow another 216,000 working at businesses with less than 15 employees to earn unpaid sick time with job protection.

#7days7ways #HoganWatch #SignHB1