To the victor go the spoils, but sometimes the victors grab too much. The proposed paid family and medical leave bills is a dagger to the heart of business.
House Bill 3140 mandates employers pay up to 32 weeks of family and medical leave each year; employees would be eligible after only 90 days on the job.
Providing medical and family leave is the sign of a society that cares about families and employees. Federal law allows for 12 weeks of family/medical leave. It is unclear why the legislative majority feels almost tripling that time on the state level is a good idea.
Small businesses would pay for the leave and presumably pay for a temporary replacement. On top of the many other tax schemes being proposed, this legislative session could turn out to be the death knell for hundreds, if not thousands of small Oregon businesses.
Things would be different if most of the legislator’s regular jobs included meeting payroll. Then they would know that every mandated expense and tax is another chip off the bottom line. Small businesses across the state struggle enough each month to meet expenses; they don’t need the added burden of paying six months of leave for an employee.
Employees who enthusiastically support the mandates of House Bill 3140 today will be less so if their employers have to shut its doors. It is the duty and responsibility of legislators (especially in the majority) to think of negative consequences for business.
Why would a small company want to expand if it knew much of its financial growth will be eaten by fees and taxes levied by a supermajority and approved by a like-minded governor?
The legislators should play fair when opponents come to speak before committees considering the family and medical leave bills, or any bill that makes it difficult to operate a business. Let them speak.
The spoils may go to the victor. However, this is not a military battle, it is democracy. Legislators are expected to represent their constituents but they must be cognizant to the effect their legislation will have on other Oregon citizens.
Oregon succeeds when we all succeed. Declaring winners and losers with such wrong-headed bills as making employers pay for six months of family/medical leave allows some to succeed while others are left in the dust.
The legislature needs to stop and rethink how negatively their actions will hurt Oregon’s employers.