The Price of Moral Policy

The Price of Moral Policy

So, I’ve been seeing a lot about this paid school days off law. There are a lot of my parent friends who are excited. It seems like a great idea – in theory. However, let’s take a look at this from an objective perspective. There are a few more nuances to this than our gut reaction of “now I won’t miss my kid’s events!”

Employees for years have lamented missing their children’s events due to work. It sucks to have to disappoint them when you can’t see them get that award or when you can’t make that field trip. The smile on their faces when you can actually be there is golden. So, emotionally speaking, more time to do that without costing our paycheck sounds like a dream. We get more smiles. We get to applaud more. We get to share more smiles. Yeah, emotionally it sounds great. But this well-intentioned law has a dark side. Really, it has a few.

How many of your children’s events do you currently have to miss or attend unpaid? If you’re in the same position as me, with kids at two different schools, there are easily 6-8 events a year. That doesn’t include any additional meetings with teachers and administration that may occur for parents who have a little extra to deal with. That being said, the legislation begins to appear less like a blessing and more like a step in the right direction, as it only offers three paid days off per year. After all, how do you decide which children you’re going to take time off for, and which you won’t? Of course, later, we can always get new rules written to offer more days off, right?

There is an additional cost to this legislation, however, and it’s one of those things people like to forget about. You’re adding another employer cost. For companies like Walmart or McDonald’s, that’s not such a big issue. Billion dollar coffers allow them to pay those added expenses without issue. Small companies, however, may have a little more trouble paying people to not be there. In California, there is already mandatory paid sick leave, which provides enough of a burden to small employers. Adding another level of paid time off only increases that burden. That increased burden may lead to less-than-scrupulous business practices, such as discriminatory treatment in hiring for parents. It may lead other companies to simply lay-off employees to help cover additional costs, or avoid hiring at potentially critical times.

All-in-all, it seems like a good idea to force companies to do something that would, by all gauges, be a morally sound thing to do. The problem is that there is a difference between the result of obtaining good moral policy by coercion and the result of obtaining it voluntarily. When it’s forced, unintended negative consequences are the result. When it’s voluntary, everyone wins. Be careful about what you legislate. It sounds great to force your job to offer you additional benefits, until someone has to lose their job to pay for it.

That’s it for today! Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and we’ll see you soon!

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The Price of Moral Policy

by Michael McNew Read in 2 min