The U.S. is currently experiencing its worst flu season in a decade, but many workers can’t heed the advice of public health experts to stay home when they’re sick due to a lack of paid sick days. And Florida business leaders are looking to keep it that way:
The Florida Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday that one of its top legislative priorities this year would be blocking local governments from adopting paid sick-time measures such as the one pending in Orange County.
At a news conference in Tallahassee, Chamber President Mark Wilson said his powerful business group wants a law that would ban cities and counties from creating varying paid-sick-leave rules across the state.
The passage of local sick-time laws would, Wilson said, “make pockets of Florida very uncompetitive.”
Conservatives have spent a significant amount of effort to block paid sick days laws in Florida and elsewhere in the country. Wisconsin Republicans even went so far as to pass a law preventing any city in the state from passing a paid sick days law after Milwaukee adopted one.
But the complaints from businesses about paid sick days making Florida “uncompetitive” ring hollow. As Jane Farrell and Joanna Ventnor noted, “A study of Connecticut’s policy mandating five days of sick leave found that full use of this leave would cost an employer only 0.4 percent of their sales revenue on average. Without paid sick days, employees come to work unhealthy, costing employers $160 billion per year due to lower productivity levels.”
40 percent of private sector workers, 79 percent of food workers, and 80 percent of low-income workers have no paid sick days. The U.S. is alone in the developed world in not mandating some sort of paid sick leave for workers. And Florida’s business community is doing its best to keep it that way, despite the consequences.