I am very happy about raising up the middle class and offering opportunities and leveling the playing field – all issues addressed in Obama’s state of the union address on Tuesday, January 20, 2015. However, as many of my clients are, as well as myself, small business owners, I can tell you there are a couple of areas he is way off the mark. Maybe he is swinging the pendulum so far to one side that he is hoping it will eventually land somewhere in the middle, giving congress bargaining room. I don’t know. But I can tell you there are two points I have problems with.
- Raising minimum wage – Minimum wage is low and yes it is true, you cannot raise a family on a salary paying minimum wage. Excuse me for pointing this out but… IT WAS NEVER INTENDED TO BE A LIVING WAGE, JUST AN ENTRY LEVEL STARTING POINT WHERE PEOPLE WERE SUPPOSED TO TAKE THE INITIATIVE AND IMPROVE THEIR SKILLS AND GET A BETTER POSITION!
OK – I got that out of my system. Sorry for shouting. I am a bit irritated at this notion because it does reward those who never tried to better themselves, either doing the job better as they gain more experience or furthering their skill sets and education when possible and is making the business owner pay for something they have no control over. On the other side, it has also given some business owners the opportunity to take advantage of paying those workers that their business relies upon only minimum wage to better line their own pockets. Especially those workers who cannot better themselves for various reasons.
As a Human Resources Consultant, I am constantly bombarded with employment regulations and spend most of my time helping employers keep up with these relentlessly moving targets, so additional government intervention is not what I’m pushing. But I do believe that there needs to be more influence by the Department of Labor. They are responsible for setting guidelines for classifying different types of jobs to make sure the method of pay is appropriate why can’t they also set certain standards for pay while they are at it? Many jobs that are entry level can start at minimum wage and gradually increase depending on years at the same job, but with a cap so that no one is encouraged to think they can stay at an entry level job and eventually make over $50k. The jobs I am referring to are the ones my generation used to do when we were still in high school, or on summer break from college or someone who recently arrived in the country, is still learning the language and has no previous experience and needed a job … cashier, stock people, delivery people, etc. You earned pocket money and gained experience and got promoted, learned a new skill or furthered your education. No one expected to raise a family on these wages. That was never the intention
And 2. Paid sick leave – again I am for paid sick leave, but I think like workers’ comp, unemployment, social security, disability and other social benefits that workers already pay into through salary deductions should be where the money comes from, not the legitimate small business owner who will be forced to not only pay the person who is absent and not working, but has to pay someone else to do the work that would have been done by the person who is out sick as well.
I admit I am not as passionate about this point as I am with my first one, but I still think it’s a good one all the same.
No one asked, but these are my opinions. You didn’t ask but Obama, I am offering my Consulting services to assist in making my suggestions happen. I’m sure one of your people know how to reach me.