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Loser Laws

It's high time Congress got rid of some old-time legislation.

Many of today's labor laws were passed before World War II, when the country comprised mostly smokestack industries. In today's new economy, is it time Congress made some major changes to those laws? Business leaders overwhelmingly say yes.

Labor laws are historically tough to change. "Reviewing old laws is not as popular as issuing new ones," says Randy Johnson, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's vice president of labor and employee relations, "so [laws already] on the books don't get the attention they should."

But that doesn't keep the Chamber from trying to get Congress and various federal agencies to take a serious look at amending some of the antiquated laws. "We are strong supporters of changing specific laws, including ones regarding comp time, bonus gain sharing and workplace teams," says Johnson. Indeed, the laws regarding bonuses and base compensation are so outdated and complex that some employers comply by simply not giving bonuses.

Chamber spokespeople testified before Congress earlier this year on the outdated laws. No action has yet been taken, but the Chamber hopes a new president will be more amenable to changes.

For information on outdated workplace rules, check the Employment Policy Foundation's Web site at www.epf.org.

A U.S. House of Representatives report on the subject, "American Worker Project," can be found at http://edworkforce.house.gov/oversight/awp/awp.htm.


Ellen Paris is a Washington, DC, writer and former Forbes magazine staff writer.

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This article was originally published in the December 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Loser Laws.

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