A bill before the California legislature would ban flat sheets in hotels, motels and other lodging establishments. SB 432 would require that flat sheets be replaced with fitted sheets. Failure to switch sheets would be a misdemeanor.
Introduced by Kevin De Leon, the bill is designed to protect housekeepers who do have a high rate of disability, especially regarding back pain. That is fine to address the health issues of hard-working people who are poorly paid for difficult work, but sheets?
Realistically, it is doubtful that changing sheets from flat to fitted is going to make housekeepers healthier. Yes, a mattress has to be held up a bit longer and more often with a flat sheet than a fitted, but why stop at that?
Perhaps guests should be prohibited from tossing used towels onto the floor. It does take a bent over back to pick those up.
Another alternative is to banish Queen or King size mattresses. Making them smaller will make them easier to move.
Yet another idea would be to require lighter vacuums or the huge carts that have to be pushed along the hallways. Pushing some of those behemoths around does take a burden on the back. There are probably some weight restrictions on vacuums already, but those restrictions are probably higher than the weight of a mattress.
Any of these ideas would accomplish more than replacing flat with fitted sheets. To be fair, SB 432 does have a second part to it. That part requires long-handled mops and other tools to reduce kneeling, squatting and bending. Now that does seem reasonable, even though it is impossible not to clean a bathroom without stooping over.
The goal of officials like De Leon is well-intended. However, when regulations become this specific and detailed, it becomes nearly impossible not to unintentionally violate a law at some point.
Contrary to what some opponents say, replacing sheets at all lodging establishments is not going to cost jobs. The price difference between the sheets is not so great as to make hotel management unaffordable.
The problem is principle. There are problems everywhere begging for government to fix them, but instead common sense is tossed out in the name of clean sheets.
As State Senator Sam Blakeslee said, “We are now going to make it a crime in California not to use a fitted sheet? Really?”
Really. Hopefully, someone strikes the flat sheets and leaves the long-handled mops.