Paid sick days mandate would hurt businesses

By Ron Dennis, Special to the BDN
Posted Jan. 17, 2010, at 7:26 p.m.

The cost of doing business in Maine continues to spiral out of control especially if LD 1665, the paid sick days mandate, passes.

I am the president and owner of a third-generation, 102-year-old family business that employs more than 100 people and pays corporate taxes that stay within Maine. I have two children, who, if they choose, may have an opportunity to carry my company forward to a fourth generation of operating in Maine.

Passage of LD 1665 will make Maine the first state in the nation to impose this type of burden on its employers; no other state in the country imposes this type of requirement on its businesses.

Passage of LD 1665 would significantly increase the cost of doing business for many employers in Maine at a time when they can least afford it. This state’s economy is in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression. How many industries have left Maine? Too many to count. Maine has lost thousands of jobs over the last 12 months; we cannot afford to lose more, and passage of this bill will put current and future jobs at risk.

Maine employers’ financial resources are not unlimited. LD 1665 will force many small business owners to choose between health care benefits, paying higher wages, creating new jobs, or laying off some of their existing work force. Maine employers will also be forced to adjust current “paid time off” practices, to specifically designate time off as paid sick time or run the risk that none of the paid time off will qualify as the statutorily required paid sick time. Additionally, employers may reduce the total leave currently provided to workers in order to avoid higher costs associated with LD 1665.

Two years ago, when the Legislature last considered a similar proposal, employers indicated the costs associated with complying ranged from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in new costs.

Multistate employers with operations in Maine will be forced to establish a separate tracking system just for Maine since no other state requires such a leave. Do you think these multistate employers may consider leaving the state? I do.

Lawmakers should be focusing on public policies that position the state to take advantage of every job creation opportunity if we are ever to climb out of our state’s recession and attract new companies into the state. LD 1665 takes us in exactly the opposite direction. This piece of legislation moves Maine in the wrong direction when it comes to economic competitiveness. It will give 49 other states a further competitive advantage when it comes to creating jobs or retaining jobs for our residents. In reality, this bill is bad for workers, as it will force employers to make tough decisions that in the end will result in them losing benefits, pay, or even their job.

In my opinion, the majority of the legislators clearly do not understand the challenges a Maine employer has today or the rewards of continuing to operate your own business. Unless the legislators change the business climate in Maine it would be difficult for me to understand why any company would want to conduct business in this gorgeous state.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/01/17/opinion/paid-sick-days-mandate-would-hurt-businesses/ printed on October 26, 2014