Exploiting the Fears of Flu

By September 29, 2009Labor Unions

Proponents of the Healthy Families Act are unfortunately taking advantage of the Administration’s guidance for employers on dealing with the potential H1N1 pandemic by advancing a restrictive mandate on employers that will reduce flexibility of leave options for employees.

Workforce Magazine” reports that that advocates of the bill are interpreting recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “establish policies for employee compensation and sick-leave absences unique to a pandemic” in a way to further promote federally mandated paid leave.

What isn’t noted is that most employers are already providing some form of sick leave for their employees; 83 percent of workers in private industry have access to illness leave.

The NAM encourages manufacturers to review the Administration’s information and develop contingency plans, as appropriate, in an effort to limit the potential negative impact on our workers, their families and our communities. However, mandating a costly one-size-fits-all approach to paid leave is far from the right approach. This legislation threatens an employer’s ability to provide the benefits that best fit the needs of their workforce. Additionally this bill would place limits on employers that provide more benefits than the minimum requirements proposed in the bill.

The advocates who are calling for passage of the Healthy Family Act in response to the H1N1 are also purposely overlooking the regulatory realities that would disconnect any new law from this year’s illness. It took 17 months to implement the final regulations for the Family and Medical Leave Act (enacted February 5, 1993; final regulations January 6, 1995). The Healthy Families Act is an equally complicated piece of legislation and there’s just no possibility of implementing it before the winter flu season. So what we’re seeing is alarmism for political purposes.

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