The debt ceiling crisis is sucking the air out of other issues, but an opinion piece on mandated sick leave still deserves notice.

Regarding mandated paid sick leave, IWF’s Carrie Lukas already has pointed out that as much as we might want it for everybody, it might not be feasible. Nevertheless Connecticut, a state struggling with high unemployment, recently mandated paid sick leave. The city of San Francisco also requires that employers pay for sick leave.  

Everybody wins, right? A study by the Institute for Women’s Political Policy Research found that 70 per cent of employers in the San Francisco area reported that there was no negative impact on profitability from the sick leave mandate. Not so fast, says Michael Saltsman, a research fellow at the Employment Policies Institute:

But the statistics highlighted in the IWPR survey are misleading. For instance, the report glosses over the fact that 65% of the employers surveyed already offered paid sick leave before the city mandated it; industries that didn’t offer paid leave before the mandate were more likely to report a negative impact on profitability. Further, nearly 30% of the lowest wage earners in San Francisco reported reduced hours or layoffs at their place of work following the sick-leave mandate. …

IWPR’s research also found that 80% of San Francisco employers reported no change in the number of employees coming in to work sick. Only 3% of businesses surveyed said fewer employees were coming to work sick than before. (The rest either didn’t know or said more employees came to work sick.)

The plain truth is that if an employer could save about $2 for every $1 spent providing his employees with a benefit, as the IWPR claims, he would have done so already. Increasing labor costs by mandating sick leave means affected businesses have to either raise prices on their customers or cut total hours worked by their employees to maintain their narrow profit margins.

I offered testimony in Hartford describing consequences like these, but my testimony-and the testimony of the state’s concerned employers-was drowned out by the message that workers shouldn’t have to choose between their job and their health.

It’s a nice bumper sticker. But I’ve got one of my own: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” And a mandated benefit that puts your income at risk is no benefit at all.

The left has increasingly begun to live in a dream world where you can mandate anything you please. GE’s Jeff Immelt, the president’s adviser on business, for example has urged business leaders to “stop whining” and “start hiring.” Immelt should know this advice operates within the framework of no known economic laws.

But the left no longer believes in economic realities or laws: they want what they want, and they arrogantly believe that they can wave a magic wand and get it. The idea that one may have to decide between a job with mandatory paid sick leave and being unemployed is beyond their frame of reference.