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More Government $$$ If You Treat Employees Better - There's a Bill For That

A Look at the Uplift Our Workers Act

Do you want more companies to offer things like paid parental leave and sick days?


Well, as of last week, there's a new bill offering employers an incentive to do just that. As part of a set of "just society" bills, the Uplift Our Workers Act would direct government contracts toward companies with "friendlier" employee policies.

How It Would Work

Introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the bill would help ensure that all taxpayer-funded government contracts go to businesses that treat their workers well.

It proposes a scoring system that would rank businesses based on how worker-friendly they are. The more worker-friendly the company, the better their chances of winning a government contract. The bill actually directs those in charge of evaluating bids to give just as much weight to this score as the cost of the contract.

It is designed as an incentive, not a mandate: simply put, companies with better workplace policies would have a better shot at winning contracts.

What Would Lead to a Higher Score?

Several factors (see a complete list by referring to the actual bill, here) would be taken into account by the score, such as whether the company:

  • Offers at least 12 weeks paid family/parental leave
  • Offers high-quality, subsidized healthcare
  • Pays all employees at least $15/hour
  • Offers at least 7 paid sick days
  • Guarantees fair scheduling (meaning workers get their schedules in advance)
  • Has not been penalized for violating any labor laws
  • Guarantees its workers will not exceed 40hrs/week to fulfill the contract, and/or that if they do, that they will be paid overtime

Takeaways

This bill is one of several introduced by members of Congress this year to try and ensure better compensation and benefits for workers:

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced a bill that would require companies to offer full-time employees at least seven days of paid sick leave, and another that would guarantee predictable schedules for workers, or extra pay if they have to work irregular schedules.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sponsored the Family Act, a bill that would guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to workers

The Uplift Our Workers Act is unique in that it is an incentive, not a mandate. That said, a potential drawback of this approach is that in prioritizing this "worker-friendliness" score as equal to (or more important than) the cost of the contract, taxpayers could end up overpaying businesses for their services. If passed, would contractors significantly raise their bids? Hard to say, but it's something to consider.

Drawbacks and politics aside, I think most of us can agree that the idea behind it: to incentivize companies to treat their workers well, is a good one.

Want to Learn More?

Read the full bill here.

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So, what do you think can be done to make companies more "worker-friendly"? Tell us in the comments below!

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