Industry Roundtable: Labor and Employment

How will automation reshape the workforce? What is the hardest job to fill? What trends are you watching for 2020 and beyond? Law firm Hodgson Russ and the Albany Business Review hosted a discussion to answer these questions and more. Cindy Applebaum, market president and publisher of the Albany Business Review, moderated the discussion.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo just proposed mandatory statewide paid sick leave in his State of the State address that will require businesses to provide at least five days of sick leave for employees. What impact will this have on employees? 

Glen Doherty, partner, Hodgson Russ LLP: If the sick leave does get traction, which does have traction in other states like Massachusetts, it’s going to change the way of doing business — certainly for companies that aren’t giving paid sick leave. It’s either going to result in an increased cost or it’s going to cause a reallocation of PTO time. Vacation time can be moved to paid time, which they did in Massachusetts.

Regardless, it is going to be an increased cost, especially for those who aren’t giving any time off. And we all know what that means. It can lead to a reduction in hiring. It can also increase costs like minimum wage and things like that. It can cause businesses to close.

Dean Iacovetti, president, Vanta Partners: The companies that I deal with from a recruiting perspective, I don’t know of any that don’t offer that, so I can’t speak to the opposite of it. All of the companies that I recruit for have at least that, and then some.

Darrin Jahnel, CEO, Jahnel Group: I can see the good intentions in which these laws are made, but I’m an entrepreneur. I’m, in general, ‘anti’ any of those types of policies. When you’re trying to force good behavior, I don’t know if it’s necessarily going to work.

The small dry cleaner who wants to do that and can’t afford it, you can put as many laws as you want on them. If they can’t do it, they can’t do it. I run a software firm. Basically, if you’re a startup company, you do whatever you want. This rule is irrelevant to companies like ours. I know the intentions are good, but my personal opinion is I think sometimes they’re doing more harm than good.

Sujata Chaudhry, CEO, Tangible Development LLC: Our culture is transparency and honesty. If it’s mandatory, we’ll put it in, but in the culture that we have created, employees take it when they need to. For us, it’s frightening to know that we are being told to do this. Employers recognize when you have great employees, and are flexible in the way you handle situations. At the same time, being told to do something versus actually doing it from a culture standpoint is completely different.

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