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Another Day, Another Job-Killing Employer Mandate from Democrats
WASHINGTON, D.C. – With an additional 345,000 Americans out of work last month and unemployment reaching its highest level in more than a quarter-century, congressional Democrats are contemplating a pair of proposals that will drive up costs for employers and taxpayers and erode job creation at a time when it is needed most. Republicans led by Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA) voiced these concerns during a hearing today on far-reaching paid leave mandates that would be imposed by Democrats, regardless of the cost to taxpayers or the economy.
“We are gravely concerned with the impact this legislation will have on the U.S. economy, employers, workers, and job creation. It represents the intrusion of the federal government into the benefits policies of millions of companies, large and small,” said Dr. Price, the top Republican on the Workforce Protections Subcommittee. “If this were implemented, the costs of government-mandated benefits would be passed on to American workers through reduced wages and fewer jobs.”
The proposals put forward by Democrats during today’s hearing included: mandatory paid sick leave for medical and non-medical conditions by employers with as few as 15 employees; and a new, one and a half billion dollar taxpayer-funded paid time off proposal.
Dr. Price pointed out that a new, one-size-fits-all mandate would not only be costly, but would ignore a wide range of existing leave policies to help workers balance health, family, and work needs.
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2008, 93 percent of full-time employees were provided paid time off that could be used in the event of an illness, and 51 percent of part-time workers had paid illness leave,” said Dr. Price. “In 2008, 79 percent of low-wage workers, and by that I mean folks making between $7.25 and $14.99 an hour, had paid illness leave. Last year, 94 percent of large employers offered paid leave that could be used for illness, as did 76 percent of small businesses, meaning those with less than 50 employees.”
While questioning the consequences of a rigid new mandate, Republicans have actively pursued policies that will make American workplaces more flexible and family-friendly. For instance, the Family-Friendly Workplace Act (H.R. 933) – introduced by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) – would allow workers and employers to choose more flexible work options through the use of comp time, or family time. The option to earn paid time off at the time-and-a-half rate used to calculate overtime wages has long been available to public sector workers, but private sector employees are denied the same flexibility.
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