Employment Policy Group Urges Seattle City Council to Consider Unintended Consequences of Mandated Leave

Employment Policies Institute Says Mandated Benefits Like Paid Leave Will Hurt Seattle Employees
  • Publication Date: July 2011

  • Topics: Health Care

Today, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) urged the Seattle City Council to consider the unintended consequences of mandating paid leave.

Legislation (Bill No. 117216) being heard tomorrow at 5:30 PM by the Health and Human Services Committee, would require Seattle businesses to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Despite the claims of advocates, mandates like this could have unintended consequences for Seattle citizens including reduced hours, cuts in benefits, and fewer job opportunities.

“Many impacted employers have low profit margins, so for each dollar in revenue, only a few cents are made in profit–meaning there’s not a lot of leeway for added labor costs,” said Michael Saltsman, research fellow at EPI. “This is especially true among employees already earning the minimum, and could cause job loss among this vulnerable group.”

Proponents of the legislation tout dramatic benefits to employees and the public from this “free lunch,” but their own research disproves the claim.

“According to a survey conducted in San Francisco by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, close to 30 percent of low-wage employees reported layoffs or reduced hours at their place of work after passage of the paid sick leave mandate,” Saltsman continued.

“Their research also reveals that eight out of 10 employers in San Francisco reported no change in the number of employees who came to work sick.”

Saltsman concluded: “Businesses don’t want their employees to come to work sick—it’s not good for their customers and it’s not good for their co-workers. That’s why an estimated 80 percent of private employers in Washington already offer some sort of paid leave. The remainder, in low-margin industries that can’t afford a paid policy, offer flexible schedules where employees can make up missed shifts. A bureaucratic mandate would kill that flexibility, and could eliminate some jobs altogether, having sickening consequences for the employees lawmakers want to help.”