When the Connecticut General Assembly was considering legislation guaranteeing paid sick days, many companies, especially in the restaurant industry, complained bitterly that it would sink their businesses. It hasn’t. But that hasn’t stopped the dubious, corporate bankrolled group Employment Policies Institute from continuing to cry wolf. As the founder and CEO of the U.S. Women‘s Chamber of Commerce, and a former executive at General Mills, I know that paid sick days have been good for Connecticut’s families, work force, health and businesses.
The Employment Policies Institute chose the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act to release a bogus “survey” on the impact of the paid sick days law on businesses in Connecticut. In it, they trot out the same old overhyped concerns. They use a few anecdotes as evidence that paid sick days are negatively affecting business, but actual facts don’t support their conclusion.
The methodology is deeply flawed. Their “survey” cherry-picks businesses, and highlights the self-reported impact of a self-selected group.
Here’s how Columbia professor Robert Y. Shapiro, an expert in social policy research, described it: “The authors acknowledged that they selected and surveyed businesses most likely to be adversely affected, so that the businesses that did respond were by design not representative of all businesses. This study therefore says nothing about any broad or compelling impact on employment, the economy or the health of employees.”
What’s more, this anecdotal and politically motivated “study” is directly contradicted by the facts. The Connecticut Department of Labor reports that employment has only grown since the passage of the paid sick days law in Connecticut in the leisure and hospitality, and education and health services sectors — the two that were most impacted by the new law. In fact, in these two sectors, the number of employees across the state has grown nearly every month. Over the last year the number of education and health service workers rose by 10,000 and the number of leisure and hospitality workers rose by nearly 1,000.
We’ve heard this hand-wringing all before. Many of the businesses who predicted doom when offering public testimony against paid sick days have expanded and grown since the passage of the paid sick days law.
The USS Chowder Pot testified to the Connecticut General Assembly that if the paid sick days bill passed they would “be forced to close both restaurants resulting in a loss of approximately 240 full-time and part-time jobs in the state of Connecticut.” Both restaurants are still standing. And they’re hiring.
The SBC Restaurant Group testified, “In the backdrop of this hit to my industry, SB 913 doubles down on the hospitality industry, proposing yet another job-killing business mandate.” But according to a report in the Connecticut Post, they’re expanding, not contracting.
The Hartford Restaurant Group also testified that “the reality is SB 913 is unreasonable and not practical, and would most likely stunt any growth opportunity.” But to their surprise (and embarrassment) they’re expanding, too. According to the Hartford Courant, HRG, “which operates Wood-n-Tap, Agave Grill and TD Homer’s Grill, has acquired the five-story building. … It will likely be used initially for storage for its growing restaurant business and possibly its corporate office.”
So let’s call this study what it really is: corporations crying `wolf’ for their own political advantage. Paid sick days haven’t hurt businesses in Connecticut.
In fact, national leaders are looking to the laws we’ve passed here as a model, including most recently former President Bill Clinton, who is calling for expansion of the policy nationally. They know what I know — that setting a minimum standard for paid sick days makes sense. Paid sick days are an important tool to help workers balance their jobs and families, and stay healthy and productive.
Margot Dorfman is CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce.