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December 13, 2007


Evil HR Lady

Oh brother. The last thing businesses need is another government mandate.

Ed Darrell

So, I was the guest speaker on quality and quality processes, etc., etc., for a quarterly meeting of the international division of a corporation that had been mainly a very successful national company for the previous 40 years. International business was good, and expected to be a major part of the business in the future (it has been).

Before we got into the fun, they had real business to conduct. First item of business: Kudos to the international teams in Germany and France. A recent audit and study showed they were the most productive teams in the entire company. Most bang for the buck, lowest turnover, least sick days -- on almost every measure, they were on top.

Second item of business: What to do about the expatriate vacation difference? Under German and French law, the native Germans and French got a full month of vacation (the rest of the company started at two weeks, got to four weeks after a century of perfect attendance). The head office wished the company could cut back to two weeks -- curse those national laws! -- and the difference between ex-pat vacation and native vacation was producing some rumbles.

An hour's discussion, no one ever made the connection that the great productivity may have been influenced by the extra vacation.

Has everyone forgotten the studies that show decline in performance after 8 hours on the job, and negative performance after 10? Has everyone forgotten the studies on the need for time off from work?

Government mandate? Why don't you provide the time already? Your company doesn't need the productivity?


Ed -

Good comments. I think most of the people who visit this site (HR people) regularly agree with your statements and take on the need for time off from work. For example, right now my company provides 17 days of vacation and personal days, and another 10 for sick days, which can be used to care for others as well.

Our policy is good for everyone, to your point.

Here's my point as a business persson. You can't write a proposed law that penalizes every business, including the ones in the 90th percentile and up who already doing great things. Our company shouldn't be forced to add 7 sick days to what we already provide, nor should the company with a PTO policy that includes similar benefit levels.

Mandates are fine for those who severely lag, but companies like ours shouldn't be penalized financially to the same degree. That's bad business and why some of these workplace bills ultimately don't make it through.

Like the perspective, come back often...

Thanks - KD


What's all wrong about all of this is the assumption that the federal government has any authorization to create any requirement of this sort in the private sector. Everyone should be writing their representatives and senators protesting this far reaching big brother action that undermines effective market forces. Those who are employers of choice are so in part because they already provide similar benefits. Removing this ability to stand higher than the competition helps no one in the long run. A new baseline of higher costs and lower ROI becomes the new standard.

On the other side, one would be naive to not recognize the negative impact on a small business. For a small business who is already offering 10 PTO days, adding 7 more is obviously 70% more. Who can afford to add 70% cost to any expense line? For an employer with 37 employees, they've just been forced to lay off a FT employee so the rest can receive more PTO. How is that good for anyone?

R. B.

I want to state up front that I believe whenever possible in providing a sick leave benefit for employees, regardless of their "level" in the organization. Our company allows 2 weeks vacation and 5 sick days a year initially. Even though we're a relatively small employer (90-100 employees), we try to do what most other employers in our region do so we can compete for talent.

That said, I don't believe government mandates are always the best solution to problems or issues. I also believe this bit of legislature, if passed, will put a lot of small employers out of business or will cause them to reduce staff to cover the additional cost they will incur to provide this benefit. There may be some small businesses out there who have great profit margins and who can afford this, but I have a feeling from all that I've read, they would be the exception, not the norm.

Putting small businesses out of business or causing additional layoffs to provide a sick leave benefit would seem to be the worst thing that could happen in our country at this time. And considering the small margins many large employers are operating under today to compete globally, I can foresee this mandate (as it's currently proposed) having the same result in many larger businesses as well.

Business is business. Businesses can't operate with a 1+ trillion dollar budget deficit the way the government does or plans to do (which we will all wind up paying for). If a business can't make money, they go under. If some piece of legislature burdens already burdened companies and tips the scale too far over the "not profitable" edge, it's not going to be helpful in the short or long term. Is this really what government needs to be doing at this time?

Lawoffice HR

I thought that the government would only make us add time if the amount currently did not meet the new standard, we give all employees 10 sick days a year so we wouldn't have to add(if my understanding is correct). Someone please advise if I am misunderstanding the proposed change.

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