Critics Say Sick Leave Law Good For Corporations, Bad For Families

Jun 18, 2013

Under a law that takes effect next month, local governments no longer have the option of passing a paid sick leave ordinance.
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Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill that prohibits local governments from crafting their own sick leave policies for private employers.

Supporters say the new law will prevent an array of ordinances that could be confusing for businesses.

Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, says the law also creates a level playing field.

“One of the worst things that you could do for the business community is require that our employees be regulated in 67 different counties, possibly under 67 different rules and regulations,” Dover said.

“The more regulation that you put on the business community, the more likely the employees are to find that their hours have been cut back,” Dover said, “that other benefits may possibly be in jeopardy.”

But Damien Filer with the Florida Coalition for Local Control says local governments have many policies that are unique to doing business in their communities.

“For example, every county has their own laws about when you can sell alcohol,” Filer said. “That doesn't seem to stop Publix from selling alcohol all over Florida.”

He says there are no local sick time ordinances in Florida that will be wiped out because of the new law.

The bill was filed in response to an effort in Orange County, where voters were about to decide whether employees should be able to earn paid sick leave at big employers like Disney.

Late last year, Miami-Dade commissioners voted against a proposal that would have provided employees an hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked.

Filer is looking forward to the Legislature convening a task force late this summer to study the potential cost and benefits of a statewide sick leave policy.

“They haven't offered anything up as an alternative yet other than a promise that they'll look into it,” Filer said. “We're really hopeful that if they embark on this task force in good faith that they will find that this would be a benefit for Florida at the statewide level and that may be a saving grace of all of this."

The law takes effect July 1.