Paid Sick Days Battle Divides Seattle Business Community

Aug 10, 2011 - LegalZoom News Sources
The question of paid sick days has caused controversy in Seattle.

A proposed measure requiring employers to provide paid sick days to workers has divided the Seattle business community, The Seattle Times reports.

Led by restaurateurs, about 30 small businesses have joined with civil rights groups and labor unions to support the measure, the news source reports. The hospitality industry backs the proposal because food workers who report when sick pose a public health risk. Two of the restaurant owners who back the measure, Molly Neitzel of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream and Peter Glick of Roxy’s Diner, told The Times the cost of sick days is not as steep as some other entrepreneurs fear.

Neitzel told the news source she has paid out about $200 since instituting paid sick days last April, and Glick said he estimates annual costs would only amount to about 2 percent of his total labor expenditures.

Glick is among the small business owners who have changed their minds about the measure since it was first introduced. A cohort of small business owners helped revise the initial draft of the measure, making it less onerous and expensive for small businesses to institute the policy, according to The Times.

The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and other large business associations oppose the measure, saying not enough research has been done on possible economic impacts, and arguing that industry-specific exemptions need to be spelled out.

Civil rights groups, churches, labor organizations and health groups recently rallied in Milwaukee for a similar ordinance to take effect after a delay of more than two years, according to WisPolitics.com.