Gov. Dannel P. Malloy celebrated the 3-year-old paid sick leave law Tuesday with two lawmakers, an advocate, and a handful of union folks at the state Capitol.
The Democrat who is seeking re-election said all of the “horrible” things that opponents said would happen as a result of the law haven’t happened.
“The positive results of this legislation far outweigh the negative impacts,” Malloy said.
However, he admitted that there’s been little academic research on the topic.
The City University of New York did a study earlier this year, which found the Connecticut law had a modest impact on businesses in the state.
The law is limited to businesses with more than 50 employees and it exempts the manufacturing industry and YMCA workers. It also does not apply to any company that already offers vacation or other time off to its employees.
There was another study done in 2013 by the Employment Policies Institute that found of the 83 employers who responded to a question of whether the law was good for their business, 57 of them — or 69 percent — said it was not.
Eric Gjede, assistant counsel with the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, said they were successful in modifying the law slightly this year. They were able to get the state to agree to allow businesses to report the number of employees their business has annually, instead of quarterly.
But even with that, Gjede said the law “simply doesn’t do anything about the cost of complying with paid sick leave.”
And if it was as great as proponents say, “then why has no other state followed Connecticut’s lead in three years?” Gjede said.
Malloy defended the law.
“Connecticut has decided to make it less likely that you will be cared for by an ill person, or served food by an ill person, then that should be taken with pride, not criticism,” he said.
Proponents of the legislation have said that without paid sick leave employees come to work unhealthy in order to earn a paycheck and end up costing employers $160 billion per year in lower productivity levels.
Malloy said employers have told him they thought bad things would happen as a result of the law, but they didn’t.
However, paid sick leave may be one of the factors contributing to Connecticut’s low rankings when it comes to business-friendliness.
Connecticut was recently ranked 46th in CNBC’s latest rankings of business-friendly states. The cable network found that Connecticut has the fourth-highest cost of doing business, third-highest cost of living, and the nation’s second-worst economy.
But it also gave Connecticut high marks in other areas such as education and access to capital.
“I’m still trying to wrap my arms around that,” Malloy said of the survey results.
As for the overall economy, Malloy said he doesn’t believe things are “getting better fast” for average middle class family, but they are getting better.
“Change takes time,” Malloy said.
The statement is a twist on a saying Malloy coined early in his administration, which was “change is hard.”
“There have been 55,000 private sector jobs that have been grown since I became governor,” Malloy said. “. . . All I can tell you is that we’re working day-in and day-out to see that our economy does, in fact, create jobs as it has been.”
He maintained that “things are getting better.” However, who feels it and how they feel it is personal.
“If you didn’t get one of those 55,000 jobs that didn’t change your life,” Malloy said. “And certainly we understand it.”
Malloy’s decision to embrace paid sick leave won him the Working Families Party endorsement in 2010 and offered a clear line of delineation between him and his Democratic primary opponent, Ned Lamont.
An attorney with the Department of Labor said Wednesday morning that fewer than two dozen complaints have been made about the law. All of the complaints were settled and most involved employees complaining they should be offered paid sick time when their employer didn’t fit the criteria to have to offer it.