If in 2014 Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg decides to finally expand her family-policy speeches into a well-resourced political and lobbying agenda, a new study from researchers at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and CUNY provides her with some powerful findings. The study surveyed businesses from across Connecticut after the state legislature there in 2011 passed a law requiring companies to provide paid sick days to their workers. Here are the key results (emphasis added):
The authors found that the law had minimal effects on businesses. A large majority of employers reported that the law did not affect business operations and that they had no or only small increases in costs. Businesses most frequently covered absent workers by assigning the work to other employees, a solution which has little effect on costs. Just 10 percent of employers reported that the law caused their costs to increase by 3 percent or more. Since the implementation of the paid sick days law, Connecticut employers saw decreases in the spread of illnesses and increases in morale, among many more effects…
Eighteen months after the law took effect, over three-fourths of employers reported that they were very supportive or somewhat supportive of the paid sick days law.
These findings, of course, run counter to the political narratives that typically arise around proposals to mandate paid, sick, and maternity leave. Indeed, in many states and cities, the private sector funds a scorched-earth opposition campaign to such mandates. Those campaigns typically claim that the mandates will raise costs, hurt business, depress the economy, decrease jobs, and subsequently harm the very workers the mandates aim to help. This domino-theory argument has been so effective that not only is the United States the only industrialized country without such mandates at the national level, 10 legislatures have passed corporate-backed laws banning local communities in their states from passing local mandates, should they so choose to try.
As the study shows, the actual data tell a far different story – one that supports the ongoing work of those who want to see the United States join the rest of the industrialized world and pass the mandates. However, getting such a story is the real political challenge. Doing that is going to take a huge amount of organizing and pressure. No doubt, that effort would certainly benefit from influential corporate voices like Sandberg backing up their headline-grabbing pro-family rhetoric with the kind of resources they already deploy to support other political causes.
[Image Credit: WikiMedia]