State Representative Greg Barreto offered an inside view on how his own business is doing things right with paid sick leave and why the state mandate may backfire by making things worse. During an informational hearing on HB 2005, which would mandate that Oregon employers provide paid sick leave to employees, Barreto discussed his company’s already-existing benefit package.
Without a government mandate to do so, Barreto Manufacturing provides its 80 employees with full health insurance coverage at no cost to any employee. It provides 7 paid holidays, a 401(k) with Com-pany match, and a profit sharing plan. Although paid sick time is not currently offered, Barreto allows any employee who misses work due to illness to come in on Saturdays – at 1.5 times their usual pay – to make up the lost wages. Barreto noted that the scheme proposed in HB 2005 would cost his company a minimum of $65,000 per year, but once higher paid employees were averaged in, he expected the total to be closer to $100,000 a year. That is money that could otherwise go to creating full-time jobs for additional area residents.
Government-mandated paid sick time is a hot-button issue in Salem at the moment, but it was clear from the hearing that employees are unlikely to gain any real benefit. When Barreto asked a hearing witness whether it was a “fair proposition” to add up to $100,000 in new costs to his business, he was told he would be able to convert existing paid vacation time to paid sick time – a net zero to workers – and clearly not the way that Representative Barreto appears to want to treat his employees.
Much of the debate over Paid Sick Leave is being driven by supporters who have never run a business and have dealt with the expenses of costly new regulations. This makes Barreto’s inside view of a local small business a great real-world example of how things are done and the danger of over-regulation.