South Carolina Passes Preemptive Sick Leave Law

Local Sick Leave Laws and other Employer Benefit Laws Banned in South Carolina

On April 5, 2017, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed bill SB 218 into law. The new law took effect immediately and prevents local governments from enacting laws that would force sick leave benefits and other employee benefits on employers.

Preemptive Sick Leave Laws have started to sweep the country in response to local ordinances that are creating a messy maize of sick leave laws for employers to manage. Often each new paid sick leave ordinance tries to outdo the previously passed laws by providing more sweeping benefits for employees and more strict controls on employers.

Some reasons that States have started passing Preemptive Sick Leave Laws

Employers are often assumed guilty under these laws and have to prove compliance to the laws when employees file a complaint. In addition to complaints filed through the governing agency, employees are usually allowed to also file legal suits against the employer. Even when the employee is found to have filed a false or a fraudulent suit, there is typically no fines or repercussion to the employee.  Often there is no recompense for legal fees spent by the business to defend itself. Additionally employers often have little or no ability to punish employees who abuse sick leave laws by consistently taking leave around weekends, holidays, or when PTO time was previously refused.

One study by William Wascher of the Federal Reserve Board conducted over decades, estimated that every 10% in employer costs decreases minimum wage and low skilled jobs by 1%. This may not seem significant, but typically paid sick leave laws are enacted in defense of the “little guy”. However, paid sick leave does no good for the little guy, when that employee is out of a job.

Employers with multiple locations or employees who travel across city or county limits are being required to spend extra money on administrative costs to manage the multiple sick leave laws created locally and to manage the required documentation.

Preemptive Laws by State

In South Carolina, the new sick leave preemptive law states that a political subdivision may not “establish, mandate, or otherwise require and employee benefit.”

South Carolina is the 20th State to pass a preemptive paid sick leave law. Several other states are considering preemptive sick leave laws.

Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, and Ohio recently passed a preemptive sick leave laws. Meanwhile the Minnesota legislature looks at a preemptive bill to solve the legal debate occurring in Minneapolis. Likewise, the Pennsylvania Senate has passed a preemptive sick leave law that would negate Philadelphia’s 2 year old sick leave law. The bill hasn’t been introduced into the House yet.

The other States with current preemptive sick leave laws include Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Resources

Bill SB 218

Written by Annemaria Duran. Last updated April 25, 2017.

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