Bill Would Limit Cities From Requiring Some Worker Benefits

A bill going through the legislature would keep cities from requiring businesses in their areas to provide more benefits than mandated by state or federal law.

cashier

Photo: Indiana Stan (flickr)

A cashier puts money in the cash register at an h.h. gregg in Fort Wayne.

A bill awaiting Governor Mike Pence’s signature would limit what restrictions can be put on work rules, and some in Bloomington fear it will stop some cities from fighting for better worker compensation.

Senate Bill 213 states that counties, cities, towns, and townships cannot require employers to provide benefits, terms of employment, working conditions, or attendance and leave policies that exceed those enshrined in federal or state law.

Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor Deborah Widiss says that runs contrary to the legislature’s principal of home rule.

“There also are a growing number of localities that are experimenting with requiring paid sick days, for example, and I tend to think it’s a good thing to let localities where that’s valued set up that policy and see how it works.” She says.

City of Bloomington Attorney Barbara McKinney says the bill would not interfere with the city’s Living Wage Ordinance which mandates that local businesses with contracts to the city must pay at least $11.85 an hour, which is well more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Bloomington’s Living Wage ordinance does not do that, it does not apply to businesses throughout the city, but only to the businesses that have contracts with the city or receive certain types of tax abatements and benefits, so we don’t see it interfering at all with the living wage ordinance,” McKinney says.

The bill says cities can impose stricter requirements on companies which receive economic development incentives, but does not automatically apply to any business which falls within that municipality’s boundaries.

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