Jimmy’s Colorado Politics Column | SB 205 would crush small business

Written by on June 15, 2020

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  SB20-205 — paid sick leave — is an example of this.  In conference committee today, SB 205 would be disastrous for small business.  Let’s jump right in.

According to the bill’s summary, through the end of 2020, “employers are required to provide each of their employees paid sick leave (PSL) for employees to take for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”  This part is tied to the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by Congress in March.

The idea behind this PSL provision is well-intentioned: let employees take paid time off from work if necessary due to the pandemic, while not having to choose between their paycheck or health.

Because Congress wanted employees to remain tied to employers, the U.S. Department of Labor says the federal government will reimburse “American private employers that have fewer than 500 employees for the cost of providing employees with paid leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.”

Given the public health circumstances, a compelling case can be made for a temporary PSL/tax credit program.  Although the speed of a tax credit won’t be quick enough for small employers who find themselves financially squeezed, at least there’s a compelling case with a tax credit.

Where things get dicey in SB 205 is what happens beginning January 1, 2021.  The summary states “the act requires all employers in Colorado to provide paid sick leave to their employees, accrued at one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours.”  That’s six 8-hour days.

Under SB 205, PSL may be used from the outset; accrues when an employee is first hired, and can be carried over into subsequent years if it remains unused.  It can be applied to an employee’s examination, treatment or preventative care for mental or physical illness, injury or health condition or the need to care for a family member with such a circumstance.

Workers can access benefits if they or a family member has been the victim of abuse or harassment requiring an absence or a public health emergency has forced the closure of the employee’s school or business.

An additional 48 hours of PSL is mandated “during a public health emergency.” SB 205 prohibits employers from firing or otherwise penalizing employees for using their PFL benefits.  If a company already meets or surpasses the bill’s requirements, they are exempt.

If Democrats want to crush small business hiring as the economy finally recovers, PFL’s fatal flaws offer a great way to do it.

Click here to read the rest of Jimmy’s June 15 column for Colorado Politics, a sister publication of The Washington Examiner.

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