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Family Leave Act Easy For This Business to Implement Moved first for AMs

February 10, 1993

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ The TBC Corp. doesn’t need government help in setting a family leave policy for the 250 people working at the auto parts and tire distributor. The company already had such a plan in place before President Clinton signed the family leave bill last week.

The new law troubles TBC president Marvin E. Bruce, who sees it as a government intrusion into the boardroom. ″My problem is: Big Brother is now dictating how to run my company,″ Bruce said this week.

TBC clerk Cindy Linehan agrees the company needed no help from Washington, but she welcomes another guarantee that she’ll be able to take the time if she has another baby.

″I came back to my old job. I think they could have replaced me and put me somewhere else,″ Linehan said.

Clinton signed the legislation Friday that allows workers in companies with 50 or more employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child; to care for a seriously ill family member; or if their own health condition made them unable to perform their jobs.

Implementing the family leave act won’t be hard for TBC Corp. The company already gives employees 12 weeks off - and more - when they ask for it, Bruce said.

What makes mandated family leave hard for Bruce to swallow is that it’s a law and more of what he sees as government meddling where it doesn’t belong.

″My concern is not the cost. That’s beside the point. My real concern is the fact that the federal government is intruding into business, free enterprise, unnecessarily,″ he said.

″In our case, where we have a loyal employee that we’ve spent a lot of money to train, the last thing we’re going to do is say, ‘No, you can’t have 12 weeks off. If you do, you don’t have a job when you get back.’ That’s ridiculous. That’s utterly ridiculous,″ Bruce said.

″I’ve heard the stories, of a man and his wife fired because they needed to be home with their little boy when he got sick. Whoever did that is a bum 3/8 I can’t believe most companies would do such a thing.″

″If we have an employee who needs time off, we’re going to see they get it,″ he said.

TBC generated $560 million worth of business last year.

″Our employees could have off for as much as a year, and a lot of that on the front end would be paid leave rather than unpaid leave,″ Bruce said.

The legislation will affect less than half of the country’s workers because most employees work in small businesses that don’t fall under the law’s guidelines.

According to the government’s Small Business Administration, 39 percent of the nation’s 94.8 million nonfarm work force is employed by companies with 49 or fewer employees.

″We strongly favor the benefit, but we strongly oppose the government requiring it,″ said Terry Hill, a spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business in Washington. ″We believe it’s going to hurt women, low income workers and small businesses.″

But from Linehan’s view, as a clerk steering shipments of tires to the railyard or telling truck drivers which auto parts they’re hauling today, the law doesn’t cost her anything.

She needed the almost 18 weeks off she got when her second daughter was born three years ago, she said.

″If I have another child, I’ll want to do it again,″ she said.

The next time, she will be able to demand the time off. And that worries Bruce.

″It takes something away. If an employee has an illness in his family and needs to be away he knows his fellow worker is going to cover for him. They appreciate that and they appreciate what the company is doing for them,″ Bruce said.

But under the family leave law, ″their thinking will be: ’The leave is owed to me. I’m taking my 12 weeks,‴ Bruce said.

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