HR Trade Group Opposes Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

John Commins , May 20, 2009

The Society for Human Resource Management has come out against a proposal that would require companies with 15 or more full-time employees to provide seven days of paid sick leave each year. Instead of the mandates set down in the recently introduced Healthy Families Act, SHRM says Congress should craft consensus legislation on workplace flexibility.

"We believe that employers should be encouraged to offer paid leave as part of every full-time employee's benefit plan – but we oppose an inflexible, one-size-fits-all government mandate," says Laurence O'Neil, SHRM President and CEO. "Our goal is to seek legislation that will encourage paid leave, but not discourage the creation of quality new jobs."

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-MA. Inquiries to his office were not immediately returned.

SHRM says the Healthy Families Act would also lock in existing leave benefits and limit or eliminate an employer's flexibility in making even minor adjustments in leave provisions. O'Neil says this could be a major burden for employers that tailor leave policies to meet an individual employee's needs. Any federal mandate that restricts an employer's ability to offer such voluntary leave policies could work against employees.

SHRM says a federal policy on workplace flexibility should:

  • Encourage employers to offer uniform and coordinated paid leave;
  • Create administrative and compliance incentives for employers who meet the leave standard;
  • Provide certainty, predictability and accountability for employers and employees; and
  • Allow for different work environments, industries and organizational size.

John Commins is an editor with HealthLeaders Media. He can be reached at

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