important bills retailers should watch this session
year's legislative session heats up, we're keeping a close eye on two bills that
address employee benefits. One minimum wage bill could create new entry-level
job opportunities, especially for teens and seniors. But another bill mandating
sick and safe leave benefits could weigh heavily against productivity and
believes strongly in HB 1150. It would allow
small employers with fewer than 50 employees to pay a temporary, reduced minimum
wage to new hires. In many cases, this temporary savings would encourage
companies that have been on the sidelines to hire someone in need of a job, or,
to avoid a layoff.
there is talk in the legislature that recognizes the burden of such a high
minimum wage and the challenges it causes us to hire young people or unskilled
workers. Our state's minimum wage of $9.19 an hour is the nation's highest.
Many small businesses struggle to keep pace with those annual increased minimum
wage costs, especially considering all the other rising costs they face for
utilities, unemployment and workers' compensation insurance and property taxes.
long been time for our Legislature to face reality and adjust our minimum wage
system to give small businesses the incentives they need to grow. Legislators
should make this change this year.
HB 1313 is a bill
that would extend Seattle's ill-advised mandatory sick and safe leave benefits
statewide. It is filled with problems. Under the bill, an employee seeking time
off would not be required to explain the reason. Unfortunately, that door opens
to the possibility not only of abuse, but the costly loss of productivity in an
era when retailers who survived the recession face rising costs, including next
year's enactment of the national health care law. It also requires employees of
larger companies to work less than employees of smaller companies to earn the
same amount of sick time off.
This is a
benefit that should be voluntarily extended by employers who can afford it. For
those who can't, the Legislature owes them a thorough economic impact review
before blindly copying Seattle's local law. The potential negative economic
impacts and unintended consequences clearly should be considered. Legislators
should hit the brakes hard on HB 1313 and avoid creating yet another drag on