In the 110th Congress, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Healthy Families Act (HFA). HFA requires certain employers, who employ 15 or more employees for each working day during 20 or more workweeks a year, to provide a minimum of seven days of paid sick leave per year to employees who work at least 30 hours per week, essentially re-defining the minimum work requirements to define a full-time employee. Employees who work less than 30 hours a week would qualify for a prorated amount of leave.

Additionally in 2007, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) introduced the Family Leave Insurance Act, a separate bill that would require employers to provide employees with six weeks of paid family leave.

Most small-business owners already have their own guidelines regarding time off, and they often are more flexible than what the government would require. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) conducted a National Small-Business Poll showed that small-business owners grant virtually all requests for family and medical leave. A government mandate could very well create a worse situation for both the employee and the business owner.

Government-mandated sick leave would affect more small-business owners than ever before, and would increase the amount of time, money and paperwork spent on compliance. The new  legislation would also interfere with small business’ flexibility, one of its strong points when competing for employees.

Small business owners and franchisees provide a great deal of flexibility to their workers. Many are part-time workers or work odd hours. The mandate described in these bills deprives franchisees of the ability to offer flexible work schedules and hours for employees. A one size fits all paid sick leave mandate would threaten this type of flexibility.

HFA would allow emplyees to taker leave by the hour or in small increments of time without notifying their employer. Experience with this provision under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has shown that allowing employees to take leave on an intermittent basis without prior notice or documentation (e.g. doctor’s note) invites unscheduled absences, tardiness and misuse of leave. When employees take intermittent leave with little or no notice, employers must cover the employee’s abscence, a burdensome and costly requirement.