Maine small business owners support earned paid sick days
The Maine Small Business Coalition, a group of more than 5,000 small business owners across the state, has launched a campaign to guarantee earned paid sick days for workers to strengthen Maine’s workforce, businesses, and communities.
Why Maine small business owners support earned paid sick days:
Main Street Values
Local, independent small businesses have deep connections with their communities, customers and employees. These business owners believe in the small business values of treating customers right and treating employees like family. That is why many Maine small business owners believe that their employees should be able to recover from an illness or take care of a sick family member. They also care about their customers and do not want to subject them to a germ-filled business.
Higher Productivity and Lower Turnover
The loss of productivity from illness in the workforce costs the U.S. economy an estimated $218 billion per year. Much of that lost productivity is from when workers go to their jobs sick.
Studies show that offering earned paid sick time can reduce turnover by 50%, reducing recruitment, hiring, and training costs. Turnover is a significant expense for small businesses, costing employers anywhere from 16% to 200% of an employees’ yearly salary to replace them. Those costs include recruitment, hiring, and lost productivity.
Low Utilization and Low Cost
In states that guarantee earned paid sick days, workers treat paid sick time as a form of insurance, to be saved and used when it is truly needed. On average, workers at small firms with access to paid sick time use 2.2 days a year and workers at large firms use 3.1 days a year. In cities like San Francisco, which has had earned paid sick days since 2007, the median worker uses less than half of their paid sick time.
This level of utilization is one reason why the cost of this policy is so low. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in Massachusetts and Connecticut, two of the New England states that have passed earned paid sick days, it has cost businesses less than 1% of their total compensation to employees. That pales in comparison to vacation (4.1%), holidays (2.3%), and insurance (8.8%). Earned paid sick days cost just 2.8% of employees’ total benefits package. When accounting for lower turnover and higher productivity, many small business owners find that paid sick days make their businesses healthier, more productive, and more cost-effective.
Earned paid sick days help to lower health care costs, saving taxpayers money. Research shows that if it were implemented nationwide, earned paid sick days could prevent 1.3 million visits to the emergency room every year, saving an estimated $1.1 billion in health care costs. Additionally, the stress of having to work while sick or while one’s child is sick can raise health care costs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, health care costs are nearly 50% higher for workers with high levels of stress. Paid sick days are especially crucial for restaurant workers, nurses, childcare providers, and home care workers, who handle food and vulnerable populations.
Businesses Benefit from Paid Sick Days
Employers in cities and states where employees have paid sick days have seen increased growth and reported no negative impact on profitability. Connecticut, the first state to enact earned paid sick days, reported that the vast majority of employers saw minimal effects on cost and made no changes such as increased prices or reduction in employee hours. In Seattle, the number of employees and total wages in the city increased, employer growth was significantly higher than in surrounding cities, and no negative impact on the economy was reported. Nearly two years after New York implemented its paid sick days law, the number of businesses grew, consumer prices fell, labor participation was the highest on record, and unemployment was at its lowest in six years. That is why 86 percent of employers expressed strong support for it.