A new Mackinac Center for Public Policy idea called the Right To Know Payroll Form is helping employees become better informed citizens and better equipped to participate in the democratic process. Dozens of employers, including the state of Michigan, have begun implementing the Form concept in new pay stubs for over 60,000 workers in several states.

The Form lists, program-by-program, the employer-paid costs of employment-related government mandates. Showing the costs on each pay stub reveals more accurately the total cost of keeping a worker on the payroll, as well as how much the cost of these programs affects workers personally.

Most workers who do not receive the Right To Know Payroll Form are not aware that their employer sets aside extra money to keep them on the payroll, but must pay it to the government or use it to comply with mandates instead of paying it to the worker. In most cases this equals as much as ten percent of the amount of the worker's gross pay.

With the Right To Know Payroll Form, these costs are no longer hidden from workers.

This money goes to pay for programs such as worker's compensation and unemployment insurance, the employer's share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, the costs of complying with government discrimination rules and of collecting payroll taxes for the government.

Over 60,000 State of Michigan employees are benefiting from the Right To Know Payroll Form concept since they began receiving pay stubs modified to more accurately show the cost of keeping them on the payroll. Michigan Director of Management and Budget Mark Murray said to the Mackinac Center, "Because of your ideas, our payroll form will be greatly improved." The new pay stubs show how much the state pays for its employees' Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the state-paid portion of selected benefits.

Some firms which have recently implemented the Form (or pledged to do so) include

  • Foremost Insurance Company of America, Caledonia, Michigan

  • The Lockwood Companies, Birmingham, Michigan

  • Cascade Policy Institute, Portland, Oregon

  • Dateppli Corporation, Midland, Michigan

  • Institute for Justice, Washington, D.C.

  • Wolverine Development Corporation, East Lansing, Michigan

  • Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Dayton, Ohio

  • Romanow Building Services, Saginaw, Michigan

  • Independence Institute, Golden, Colorado

  • Spartan Oil Company, Lansing, Michigan

  • Pantograms, Tampa, Florida

Media attention is helping workers and business owners around the country learn about the benefits of the Right To Know Payroll Form. The Mackinac Center has filled hundreds of requests for free Right To Know Payroll Form kits as a result of prominent articles in the national news magazine Insight, the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, the Grand Rapids Press and other newspapers, a feature on the Washington, D.C.-based cable television program Ways and Means, and radio interviews all around Michigan and in major U.S. cities.

The Heritage Foundation, a highly respected Washington, D.C. think tank, distributed the Mackinac Center's Right To Know Payroll Form brochure to over 3,000 free-market oriented policy research and advocacy organizations. The Form was also featured on the Foundation's World Wide Web page.

The Mackinac Center sends a periodic fax update filled with news and helpful tips on the Right To Know Payroll Form to the scores of companies which have received their Form implementation kits.

The Mackinac Center launched the Right To Know Payroll Form as a way for businesses to help their workers be better informed citizens. Senior Vice President Joseph Overton said, "The Right To Know Payroll Form can revolutionize worker participation in the democratic process by giving workers more complete information about the cost of the government programs they pay for."

Not everyone agrees that workers should be told about hidden governments costs. When the Ohio House of Representatives introduced a bill requiring Ohio state government to follow Michigan's lead and implement the Right To Know Payroll Form for tens of thousands of state employees, the Columbus (Ohio) Guardian wrote, "It's feared that information provided on pay stubs could be manipulated to prejudice workers against health and safety programs."

Center Director of Communications Joseph Lehman responded, "Only those with something to hide would want American workers and voters to be kept in the dark about the cost of government programs. To suggest that citizens make better decisions without this information is like saying we should remove prices from restaurant menus because diners might make the wrong choices based on the cost of a meal."

For a free Right To Know Payroll Form kit, which includes a brochure, helpful implementation tips, and a list of frequently asked questions and answers, call 1-800-22-IDEAS or send e-mail to Michael D. Lafaive