PA Business Organization Concerned Over Possible Sick Leave Proposal

Jan 21, 2015

Before he took the oath of office, Gov. Tom Wolf said that as governor he would push for legislation that would implement paid sick leave for employees of businesses with 50 of more employees. That has some business groups in the state concerned.

“We’ve gone through this issue before,” said Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. “The problem isn’t in having people get sick time, it’s in government mandating or dictating exactly what that structure needs to look like.”

Many businesses already offer sick leave options, according to Barr. These can include incentives to work more and make extra money that could be set aside for those days one can’t work. Barr said a major concern is taking away that kind of flexibility.

“Some people desire more flexibility than dollars, some like a more rigid structure,” he said. “This takes the decision making of the employer or employee and puts it into a mandated program.”

The policy would likely mirror one that’s been on the books in Connecticut for more than a year. With the governor and new lawmakers being sworn in this week, it’s unclear when or if this issue will arise. Even though the chamber has concerns, Barr said the advocacy group will keep an open mind.

“If there’s a proposal in we’ll certainly take a long, hard look at it and see whether or not it’s something that our member can live with, whether we can do changes,” said Barr. “It’s all speculative until we see this. We will then go to the administration, go to the legislators that introduced it and talk about the concerns we have.”

The PA Chamber of Business and Industry represents about 8,000 businesses across the commonwealth. Wolf, himself a business owner, has said that nobody should have to choose work over staying home either when sick or to care for a sick family member. Wolf has also said he supports raising the state’s minimum wage.