Today, the Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on the Healthy Families Act (HFA), a bill introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) that would guarantee all Americans seven days of paid sick leave. Preempting the hearing, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) launched a broadside, claiming that the legislation will surely cause America to lose jobs:
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) – the nation’s largest industrial trade association representing manufacturers of all sizes and industries – opposes “one-size-fits-all” mandates on employers that increase the cost of doing business in the United States…The HFA legislation would impose an inflexible government mandate on employers, making it more difficult for manufacturers to preserve and create jobs in these difficult economic times.
This sounds exactly like the claims made by the National Small Business Association (NSBA), which said that the HFA “would hinder an entrepreneur’s ability to create jobs.” “Small businesses are in need of a helping hand in creating jobs and increasing productivity — not burdensome government mandates that impose additional costs, stifle job growth and harm employees,” claimed the NSBA. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) also picked up on it, saying that “every time Washington pushes an unfunded mandate onto the backs of small businesses, operating costs increase and hinder the economy’s ability to grow [and] create jobs.”
Sounds pretty terrible, doesn’t it? Except, according to a report out today from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), none of it is true. CEPR actually found that paid sick leave has almost no effect on a country’s employment situation:
The experience of the 22 countries with the highest level of social and economic development (as measured by the Human Development Index) suggests that there is no significant relationship between national unemployment rates and legally-mandated access to paid sick days and leave.
Considering that today, the World Health Organization officially labeled swine flu a pandemic, because it’s “now undergoing communitywide transmission in Australia as well as in North America,” this issue becomes even more important. I pointed out when swine flu first broke that the Center for Disease Control was recommending that sick workers stay home, and yet nearly 50 percent of private sector workers and 76 percent of low-income workers have no paid sick leave.
The U.S. is all alone in the developed world in not mandating paid sick leave, even though sick workers attending work and infecting other employees costs the U.S. economy $180 billion annually. You’d think organizations like NAM and NSBA would want to prevent that sort of unnecessary economic loss.