Business groups win two rounds in Legislature
Two bills in the state Legislature that businesses considered serious threats to their bottom line appear to be dead for this session.
A controversial sick-leave bill, which would preclude an employer from disciplining an employee for misusing sick leave, was deferred in the House. The bill will likely be revived next year by labor unions who have pushed the measure for at least the past three years, according to the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, which has lobbied against the measure.
The second measure, the so-called successor-employer bill, which would have required a purchasing company to retain the employees of the firm that it is buying, also was deferred this session. Both bills have been supported by labor unions, while companies claimed that the measures would only add to the costs of doing business.
"For those two bills, obviously they're pretty harmful to business and we're glad that the legislature has decided to kill the bills at this point," said Clayton Kamida, general counsel for the Hawaii Employers Council.
Cade Watanabe of Unite Here Local 5, which represents hotel employees, said yesterday the union has supported the intent of the bills.
But he added that the failure to advance this session will not directly affect members since it has negotiated new contracts that essentially forces a potential buyer to retain a hotel's work force.
However, other bills that the council and the Chamber of Commerce oppose are advancing this session, including:
» House Bill 758, which would require employers with 50 or more workers to provide rest or meal breaks to employees after five consecutive hours of work. Businesses say the measure threatens to increase administrative costs because an employer would have to track employees' work hours down to the minute.
» Several workers compensation bills that businesses say would require an employer to pay for treatments that could subsequently be deemed unnecessary and prevent employers from selecting an independent medical examination, unless mutually agreed upon by both an employee and employer.
» House Bill 1503, which requires employers to provide a 60-day notice to employees of divestiture and imposes penalties for failure to notify employees of a closing.