Friday, May 20, 2011

At The State Level, I Could Support This

I'm much more lenient about what I think states should be able to do legally versus what the federal government can legally do. States can do all sorts of things, and while I might not agree with all of them, for any number of reasons, I'm more likely to challenge them on economic grounds than on constitutional grounds.

This socialist-type law is one that strikes me as humane, decent, and not overly-injurious to business, and hence can support it:
Workers in California would be entitled to bereavement leave after the death of a close relative under legislation that cleared the Assembly this week.

The measure would allow employees to take up to four days off work upon the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild or domestic partner.

Proposed by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, Assembly Bill 325 cleared the lower house Thursday by a vote of 48-26, with no Republican support. It now goes to the Senate.

Employees could be required to document the death of their relative, perhaps by an obituary or funeral notice. They would not be entitled to pay during bereavement, unless they use vacation, leave, or other compensatory time off.

I'd have a totally different opinion if this law mandated paid time off, but since it doesn't, count me as a supporter. (Full disclosure: one of my employment benefits is paid time off for bereavement leave for certain family members, and I've taken paid time off after the death of a brother and the death of one of my grandmothers).

Of course, this being California, lawmakers went overboard and added some stupid-sounding provisions:
Opponents counter that businesses need flexibility to work such matters out with employees, free of political interference. They also ridicule provisions that allow leave to be taken for up to 13 months after the relative's death -- and on days that are not consecutive.
I'm sure the reasoning for that could be having to deal with wills and probate and attorneys and the like, which are not dealt with immediately upon death, but I counter that that's not "bereavement". Bereavement is for when you're just too distraught to come to work, or need to be with family in the very trying times of a close death.

Still, when put on balance, I see this as more positive than negative and, as I said, not overly injurious to business. I'll still support it.


muckdog said...

Agreed. There is so much stuff to deal with, that one needs to take time off. And that's not including the grief. Sometimes the grief gets postponed for all the running around dealing with the estate issues. Then once that's done and you finally sit down, you just lose it and cry.

So people need time off. Should the employer pay for it? Probably not, unless it's a benefit up front. But one should be able to use whatever kind of leave balances they have on the books to take care of things. Definitely.

Curmudgeon said...

From a schools perspective, all this could be avoided if there were a clause like the one in our contract: Each teacher gets 14 days, period. They're not categorized as sick, bereavement, personal, etc., so you don't have to lie, pretend-cough, or BS your way through the sub process. You simply indicate the day and provide a reason if you feel like it, or not. The faculty handbook does put some restrictions on it but, by and large, doesn't enforce.

It turns out that there are far fewer sick days taken under this system than when you had to "use your personal days" or "professional leave days" before the end of the year, or had to negotiate another bereavement day because you had to deal with lawyers.

If you can get this into your contract, it's wonderful and so much less stressful for all involved.

Darren said...

You get 14? Wow! We only get 10, and they're all "sick days", of which we can take up to three for "personal necessity" but not recreation.

I prefer the idea of "paid time off", which is what you described.

Anna A said...

I'm currently working at my first job that just has "paid time off" and I love it. I don't have to use it or lose it, and so I can accumulate enough time for long trips. ( I give my bosses several months warning, because of my responsibilities, and they schedule things around it. )

Curmudgeon said...

It's not called "paid time off" but it acts that way. We are supposed to use it for things that cannot reasonably be accomplished outside of the school day - if you are seen wandering the state fair, then questions are asked. You can't use it to lengthen any long weekends or vacations. You can't string a bunch together without justifying it.

I think we get more because there is this stuff up here called snow - weird stuff that - and there are times when the plows don't come by until 9 or 10 and you just can't get to school. Or, your child gets sick, you get sick, the student coughs and you now have the flu.

It's funny, though, only a few teachers ever take all of their days - most only take 4-6 sick days a year. It really works well. I personally have accumulated about 9 a year since I've been there.