LEGAL UPDATE - Opposition Mounting Against the Ohio Healthy Families Act
By Evelyn P. Schonberg
In the last newsletter we informed you about the Ohio Healthy Families Act that will mandate seven paid sick days annually for all full time employees and a pro-rated amount for part-time employees employed by employers with 25 or more employees. Over the past few months many clients have inquired as to what, if any efforts are underway to oppose the HFA and what can they do to help defeat it.
The concerns of our clients are shared by all business owners and managers across the state. For instance, the HFA mandates that leave already in existence at the time of the Act’s enactment can neither be reduced nor eliminated. Clients are seeking ways in which to handle the economic burden of this Act now before it’s too late. The fact that sick leave can be taken in increments as small as one hour has many employers concerned that employees can leave work an hour early every Friday without any threat of discipline or termination. These concerns only grow when it’s learned that sick leave can be used for almost any undocumented medical reason for not only the employee but also for her spouse, parent or child.
No one should be surprised that a Quinnipiac University poll recently released found strong support for the HFA. The poll found that 71 percent back the sick-leave requirement while many of the same respondents -- 58 percent -- believe that Ohio is in economic trouble because state regulations put too much of a financial burden on business. It therefore becomes obvious that Ohioans are in need of education about the severe economic consequences that will result if this Act is voted into law.
What can we do to help defeat this Act? One idea is to log-on to www.OhioBusinessVotes.org. This website is a collaborative project created by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. You will find a host of materials you can use to educate your employees and friends about the disastrous effect this Act will have on Ohio’s economy and their jobs.
Another idea is to copy editorials such as the one that appeared on June 8, 2008 in the Columbus Dispatch and entitled “Do The Math: Mandates on business will result in subtraction of jobs for Ohioans.” This can be obtained at www.dispatch.com or through the OhioBusinessVotes website.
Yet another idea is to distribute a list of the host of agencies, partnerships and organizations that have publicly renounced the HFA. These include the Ohio and numerous local Chambers of Commerce, COSE, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Northern Ohio Chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors and Ohio State Council of the Society of Human Resource Managers
We will continue to monitor the progress of the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) efforts at collecting the 120,689 signatures needed to place the HFA on November’s ballot. Please make sure you are signed up to receive our Client Alerts via email by accessing our website at www.rbslaw.com and clicking on the icon “Client Alerts.” If you need any information or have any questions, give Lynn Schonberg a call at any time.