Nothing is more precious than the time we spend with our children. Apparently some of Ohio's legislators have taken note.
Ohio HB 40, introduced in late February of 2009 by State Representative Tom Letson and co-sponsored by 16 other State Representives, would require certain employers with 50 plus employees to allow a parent to exercise court-ordered parenting time without terminating employment, reducing pay, or taking other similar action against the parent.
If passed, HB 40 would give irresponsible parents just one more way to escape obligation and pass it on to someone else: the employer. Parents have a high degree of control over what the court may order for a visitation schedule. First, the parents can agree on a visitation schedule taking into account each other's employment. Second, even where the mother and father are fighting about visitation, courts work to ensure parents time doesn't conflict with employment. If there is no way around a conflict, divorced parents, like married parents, need to make daycare arrangements.
Not all family oriented legislation is bad. I contrast this proposed legislation with Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requiring certain employers to provide requiring unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child; acquiring a foster child; the serious illness of a child, spouse, or parent; and, the serious illness of the employee. FMLA, in effect since the early nineties, works because it covers serious often unavoidable circumstances where time away from work is required.
According to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, which opposes the legislation, the Ohio Judiciary Committee "heard proponent testimony from two unions. Throughout the testimony several committee members on both sides of the isle raised concerns about the bill. The following concerns were raised about the effect of such legislation: 1) the prohibition of reducing pay for a parent who takes time off and does not complete a full work week, 2) situations under the bill where the only employees working on Saturdays would be those who were not divorced, 3) providing such a benefit to those divorced employees with children at the expense of other employees, 4) the lack of labor organizations negotiating such parenting-time provisions into labor contracts, and 5) the fact that no other state has enacted a similar proposal."
The concerns raised by committee members are well-founded. Why does Ohio want to be the first state with legislation that, in effect, benefits divorced employees at the expense of others? Hard to understand what is truly motivating this legislation. Note to the sponsors of HB 40: parents, not employers, need to be responsbile for parenting time schedules.