Employer Paid Family & Medical Leave Is a Step Too Far!
The Southeastern Massachusetts Legislative Alliance, comprised of the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce and the SouthCoast Chamber, is strongly in opposition to the proposed Employer Paid Family & Medical Leave mandate on Massachusetts businesses. State lawmakers are seriously considering several employer paid family and medical leave proposals. If passed this legislative mandate will require Massachusetts businesses to grant up to 26 weeks paid time off in a calendar year to workers for their own illnesses; as well as up to 12-16 weeks paid time off to care for family members (spouse, child, parent, parent of spouse, grandchild or grandparent). These legislatively imposed benefits are at the expense of Massachusetts businesses.
The threat of an Employer Paid Family and Medical Leave law comes on the heels of a lawmaker encouraged ballot initiative that now requires Massachusetts companies to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work to all workers. The employer paid family and medical leave proposals will further harm businesses by allowing their workers 26 weeks paid time off to care for themselves and 16 weeks for family members. Both benefits would allow for intermittent and extended periods of time with pay. The paid benefits will be employer financed and could cost small businesses as much as $1000 per week, per employee. This is in addition to the expense of finding and paying for alternative workers that will be needed to make up for the individuals taking employer paid time off.
While four other states, which include Rhode Island and New Jersey, have enacted medical and family leave provisions, their programs are strictly funded by employee payroll deductions. No state in the United States mandates that employers must pay for employee medical and family time off. Massachusetts would the only state to place such an incredible financial burden on its own businesses.
For the Massachusetts program to work, it will be funded from a new tax assessed on small businesses. One small instrument of relief being considered by legislators is to allow employers an option to shift up to 50% of the assessment costs to their employees. The revenues raised from the new assessment, which acts as a tax, will be used to fund and create another state agency to administer the program.
No one can deny that the expense of this legislatively imposed mandate will impact every business in Massachusetts. Please keep in mind that Massachusetts is already a high cost state to do business within. It is also important to recognize that the current Legislative Session includes bills that if enacted would mandate 3 weeks in advance employer scheduling, establish a $15 minimum wage, establish a millionaire’s tax that is a masked tax on limited liability companies and S corporations and further increase the cost of energy in the state that already has the highest cost for electricity in the continental United States. The employer paid health care assessment hidden within the state budget is an additional hit to businesses. Another is the proposed increases to Unemployment Insurance. All of these hardships are coming at Massachusetts companies at once.
In the days ahead it is hoped that state lawmakers take the time to contemplate the impacts of what employer paid family and medical leave will do to their constituent businesses. They should also balance the totality of the impacts when considering additional anti-business burdens such as the employer health care assessment within the state budget, strict scheduling legislation and a $15 Minimum Wage. Hopefully it will be recognized that all of these employer paid mandates are too much for Massachusetts businesses to absorb at once.
Robert A. Mellion, Esq.
President & CEO
Bristol County Chamber of Commerce
Voice of Business Since 1911
200 Pocasset Street
Fall River, MA 02721
Telephone: (508) 676-8226
President & CEO
New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce (d/b/a SouthCoast Chamber)
Proudly Serving New Bedford and the Towns of the South Coast
794 Purchase Street
New Bedford, MA 02740
Telephone: (508) 999-5231