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California's workers and employers need flexibility, not expansion, in the country's most stringent family leave law

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on Oct. 5, 2007

In response to Oct. 5, SF Chronicle story: 3 bills try to bolster California's family leave law

CMTA recognizes the growing diversity of family units and their interactions with the workplace.  AB 537 and SB 727 attempt to address this situation but only broaden the already comprehensive family leave laws.  Workers and employers would be at a competitive disadvantage if the State expanded these laws without evaluating as a whole the impacts on the economy, workplace production and efficiency, and employer-employee relations.

California's workers depend upon manufacturers, with their high wages and massive California supply chains.  A manufacturers' ability to compete and provide high-wage jobs is affected by the indirect costs associated with inflexible family leave laws that are the most stringent in the country.

If these bills are signed both the employer’s flexibility to address worker needs and the employee's ability to cooperate with them in times of crisis will be limited.   Every circumstance is different and the ability to fill a person’s job may vary, requiring cooperation between the employer and the employee.

The manufacturing industry also faces a serious challenge finding newly skilled workers to compensate for the rapid aging workforce.   Therefore, this industry is more likely to be affected by the expansion of family leave.  Many companies in California are already experiencing a loss in production due to their inability to find the skilled workers to compensate for the increase in absenteeism from existing laws.

California has set a precedent by expanding family leave regulations to the most stringent in the country.  Employers want to retain their workforce and continue to offer competitive benefits which include additional paid sick leave and vacation time but need flexibility to make the laws work.   The existing question is not if employers want to provide leave for their workers but if employers are capable of providing the leave without impacting production and the moral of other co-workers who have to work extra hours to pick up the duties left behind.  Let's deal with that problem before expanding the law even more.




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