September 7, 2016

Buses and sick leave: Albuquerque is chasing yesterday’s trends

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Albuquerque Rapid Transit

Andy Lyman

Government is bureaucratic and slow. This goes without saying. But it also fails to keep up with reality. After all, millions of entrepreneurs are out there experimenting (and usually failing) to get rich by coming up with “the next big thing.” Government responds to political pressure and is filled by people who want to hang onto their jobs, not find the newest innovation.

Paul Gessing is the president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, a libertarian-oriented think tank based in New Mexico.

Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing

Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing

Two recent examples come to mind from Albuquerque that involve government enacting or putting forth policies that run directly counter to societal trends and technology:

    1. Albuquerque Rapid Transit: The new bus system along Central is now underway whether the locals like it or not. Interestingly, while Mayor Berry and the City embrace buses, a mode of travel that is nearly 100 years old, the City of Pittsburgh is now home to the first-ever self-driving Uber cars. As if to mock Albuquerque’s embrace of old tech, Singapore has announced that it has self-driving taxis. I’m sure the millennials will be VERY impressed by Albuquerque’s new bus system though.
    2. Mandatory Paid Sick Leave: A local ballot measure could be on Albuquerque ballots as soon as November depending on what happens at Thursday’s Bernalillo County Commission meeting.Interestingly, the trend among employers (also benefiting employees) runs in the opposite direction according to the article, “Why so many employers are getting ride of paid sick days.”

As the article notes:The decision to group all the PTO together started as a way to ease the administrative duties of tracking individual sick and vacation schedules, Meridith Burrows, The Cheat Sheet’s vice president of human resources, said in an interview. However, it also matches the culture of the company, whose entire staff works remotely from destinations all across the United States and abroad.

“We’re a flexible company, and this is just one more way that we can flexible,” Burrows said. Bundling PTO together also has another advantage, in that most employees avoid last-minute days off unless they are truly sick. If they know they’re planning to be away or might need the personal day after an active weekend, it’s within their ability to ask off ahead of time, without worrying about using sick days versus vacation PTO.As a media company that balances the demand for new content with the needs of its employees, that extra heads-up is helpful, Burrows said.

“Why would we want to encourage last-minute reporting like that?” she asked. “We’d rather know that information up front.” Restricting personal time off to sick days just encourages people to be dishonest — or to feel like they’re not believed when they actually do need a sick day. “We don’t want people to have that feeling,” Burrows said. “It’s not treating people like the adults that they are.”

Treating people like adults, what a novel concept! Rather than telling them how to live or telling them which days to take off an how, perhaps it is time for Albuquerque’s policymakers to treat us like adults?

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