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OP-ED | Paid Sick Leave Will Spur Innovation That Leaves Connecticut Workers Behind

by | May 27, 2011 2:11pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Business, Opinion

Connecticut’s state Senate squeaked through a bill this week mandating that some employers provide paid sick leave to their employees. If it passes the state House and is signed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as anticipated, Connecticut will be the first state in the nation with such a requirement.

Big Labor championed the measure as a public health issue and waged a savvy campaign for the issue by playing on the public fear of someone spitting in their food in radio advertisements. The advertising likely wasn’t as effective, however, as was the Governor’s personal persuasion of wobbly senators on the floor of the state Senate. 

That the measure is diametrically opposed to Gov. Malloy’s “the state is open for business” message was apparently less important.

The message to cost-conscious small businesses, however, is crystal clear. It does not matter to the state that such employers already battle some of the highest energy costs in the country, an expensive and inefficient transportation system, high labor costs, and a heavy tax burden. The State of Connecticut is enthusiastic about creating new obstacles to growth, rather than tearing down the old ones.

The underlying assumption of the bill is that employers will simply resign themselves to the higher costs and muddle through as well as is possible. In the reality of the information technology age, the response from business will not be muted submission, at least not in the long run.

Recent news clips from Europe and the U.S. point to the future. Last week it was reported that fast food behemoth McDonalds ordered 7,000 self-order kiosks for its restaurants in Europe. The innovation will assuredly mean far fewer McDonalds employees at those locations.

Think that it’s only in Europe and it will never come to these fair shores? Sky magazine’s May 2011 issue notes a handful of restaurants in the U.S., including New York’s JFK airport, where patrons can place their orders through an iPad app. The next frontier — smartphone based ordering — won’t be far behind.

These innovations mean that it is not only possible, but preferable to replace high labor costs with capital investments in technology. As Connecticut artificially drives up those labor costs with mandates like paid sick leave, it hastens the day when more Connecticut workers are replaced by machines.

Heath W. Fahle served as executive director of the Connecticut Republican Party from 2007-09. Contact Heath about this article by visiting www.heathwfahle.com

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(9) Archived Comments

posted by: Knitting Clio | May 28, 2011  7:57am

This really is a public health issue. Would you want to eat something prepared by a restaurant worker who has come to work with the flu because s/he doesn’t have paid sick leave?  I’ve been down that road—I organized a conference at CCSU a few years ago where a number of attendees got sick because one of the catering staff came to work with the flu.  The same happened to folks who attended a dinner for the Polish Studies program that evening.  This led to lost “productivity”—i.e. those sickened had to take time off from work to recover.

posted by: magpiedav | May 28, 2011  10:10am

I pity any legislator who falls for this.

Rosie the Robot from the Jetsons must have a direct result of a wave of paid sick time legislation in previous decades…

posted by: Specter | May 29, 2011  9:58am

Knitting Clio:

If this is a public health issue, then why, pray tell, did it NOT GO THROUGH THE PUBLIC HEALTH COMMITTEE in the legislature? Public Health measures, by procedure, must go through that committee for approval. Stop listening to ads on TV and radio and start researching issues before you speak.

posted by: SJAY | May 30, 2011  8:47am

And those innovations wouldn’t have happened anyway, given that they are driven by technology and the need for profit???

posted by: hawkeye | May 30, 2011  2:59pm

Connecticut is already the toughest state in the country—to attract new business.  With Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and “Paid Sick Leave”—Connecticut remains the biggest loser in the USA.

posted by: Heath | May 31, 2011  4:16pm


Knitting Clio said:

This really is a public health issue. Would you want to eat something prepared by a restaurant worker who has come to work with the flu because s/he doesn’t have paid sick leave?

Thank you for an example of the horror stories being peddled by Big Labor on this issue.  I went for a walk today and nearly was hit by a driver talking on their cell phone instead of paying attention to people in the crosswalk.  There ought to be a law banning that! Oh wait.

posted by: Heath | May 31, 2011  4:27pm


SJAY said:

And those innovations wouldn’t have happened anyway, given that they are driven by technology and the need for profit???

No innovation is inevitable - Incentives spur innovation. And my point is that by increasing our labor costs, paid sick leave increases the incentive to replace our labor costs with capital investment sooner than would have otherwise been the case.

posted by: HoratioAlger | June 1, 2011  10:56am

Knitting Clio,

If this is a public heath issue why are part time state, municipal, and public education employees exempt? Also exempt are per diem employees of the state, many of whom work the same 37 hours a week as a full time employee. They get no benefits however.

So the lady who serves your kid his taco kid his taco will sneeze all over it because the will not be paid if they stay home.

Adding to the outrage of this abomination of a bill, a small business doing one, two, or three million dollars a year will get hammered and have to provide this benefit at not inconsiderable cost to themselves. But the State which spends 10 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR is exempt and will not being paying its part time and per diem employees sick time.

The fact is that the State of Connecticut could care less if every business closed tomorrow and unemployment went to 100% as long as they could find a scam to fund their pet projects.

posted by: MACaulfield | June 1, 2011  3:42pm

I am disgusted by our legislature.  Clearly, in passing this measure our Senate gave no weight or consideration to an individual’s responsibility towards society.  Regardless of whether I will lose a day of pay, I would not report to work in food service or any other occupation where I would be subjecting other members of the public to a health hazard.  Why is it that every time someone thinks it is a good idea to enact a measure for society’s protection it is business that is asked to foot the bill???  I am certain that the public as a whole would not be willing via additional taxation to fund this initiative, which is allegedly aimed at protecting the public.  Why is it that our legislature finds it so easy to ask an already taxed business community to pay for it?  The answer is easy…because Democrats in our legislature do not answer to business and therefore do not care how much expense they require business to shoulder.  Shame on our governor as well…Connecticut is clearly not “open for business.”

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