We work with positive business leaders who focus on the future and rewarding opportunities ahead, strive to improve the economy and help ensure Maui remains no ka oi (the best).
Every day they show up on the front lines, investing what they have in their business, keeping people employed as best they can, giving back to the community and offering needed goods and services. Yet, they are getting hit from many directions, with rising expenses and a barrage of new laws that will increase their costs, divert their time and drain their businesses. It is not sustainable and cannot continue.
Here are just two examples of bills moving forward in the state Legislature that will hurt businesses:
* House Bill 1699 House Draft 1, relating to labor, or "Mandatory Meal Breaks" (our title).
It would require employers, regardless of size, to provide meal breaks for employees and impose penalties for failure to provide meal breaks.
We believe it is unnecessary because:
* Meal breaks are provided by most employers and often longer than 30 minutes.
* It will cause unintended confusion and litigation regarding the calculation of overtime payments.
* It will hurt employees who would rather work through their lunch or take shorter breaks to shorten their workday.
* It will require employers to carefully monitor employees to make certain meal breaks are taken before five continuous hours of work have elapsed. To avoid penalties, employers will have to send supervisors to every employee's work location to be sure that breaks are taken on time.
* It imposes a significant administrative weight on employers, requiring them to create procedures and change systems to record meal breaks and whether a person elects to forego a meal break in order to obtain overtime pay.
* Senate Bill 2507, relating to health, or "Paid Sick and Safe Leave" (our title).
This bill would require employers to provide a minimum amount of paid sick and safe leave to employees to be used to care for themselves or a family member who is ill, needs medical care or is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
Employers who already provide paid leave for these same purposes (for example, paid time off) need not provide additional leave as long as the accrual amount is equivalent to the amount required in the bill. However, employers who provide sick leave for absences related to the employee's own illness would have to either provide a separate bank of "sick and safe leave" or adjust their sick leave policy to comply with this measure for all of the reasons listed.
Senate Bill 2507 provides a legal presumption that any adverse employment action taken within 90 days against an employee who takes "sick and safe leave" constitutes unlawful retaliation, and the 90-day period of presumption resets every time an employee takes "sick and safe leave." This would make it very difficult for employers to discipline employees who sporadically take "sick and safe leave."
It requires an employer to pay for out-of-pocket costs for required doctor's notes. If a part-time employee does not have health insurance, the employer is then responsible for all out-of-pocket costs for the doctor's visits.
The measure also limits when an employer may ask for leave documentation to more than three consecutive days of leave. If an employee only takes leave in three-day increments, the employer cannot verify proper usage.
Currently, it would apply to virtually all employers, regardless of size.
Do not let our elected officials turn a blind eye toward small businesses and plague them with higher costs and unnecessary mandates. Ask state legislators to stop these bills and create a "business-friendly" environment instead that will generate, not destroy, jobs in Hawaii.
* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.