As President Obama prepares to deliver his sixth State of the Union address Tuesday, he’s been on something of a publicity tour, unveiling policies he plans to promote in that speech. Thursday’s stop: Baltimore, where the president talked about paid sick leave, and the fact that some 40 million workers in this country don’t have it.
The president is calling on Congress, as well as states and cities, to make it possible for workers to earn up to seven paid sick days a year. How much would that cost businesses? One study on the impact of a law in Connecticut found that nearly two-thirds of business owners said they saw little or no increase in costs. A total of 11 percent said their payroll costs increased by 3 percent or more.
“Three percent is terrible in this environment,” says Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist of the National Federation of Independent Business.
Advocates of paid leave say it reduces turnover and makes for happier, healthier workers.
“You end up with a more loyal employee base,” says Amanda Rothschild, co-owner of Charmington’s, a Baltimore cafe that offers paid sick leave to its workers. “Your employees really want to work for you.”
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