The Autism Treatment Center is in its 43rd year of helping people in Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio. We have 24 community-based group homes, along with adult services programs, education programs, outpatient therapy clinics and a deaf/blind program, ATC served 933 individuals last year.

But it’s a big job—and Dallas’ new mandatory paid sick leave ordinance will make it more difficult for us to serve our clients. We already offer paid sick leave as a benefit to our full-time employees. But Dallas’ new ordinance will change how that’s calculated, and force us to offer that benefit to our part-timers.

When an employee takes sick leave, a suitable replacement must be scheduled, which means that ATC will pay out 2.5 times the hourly cost (1 hour of sick leave plus time-and-a-half for the substitute).

The additional pay-out to comply with the new ordinances will have a very real fiscal impact, one that is anticipated to add $104,000 to our expenses.

With increased labor costs, ATC will be forced to reevaluate our ability to serve additional children and adults faced with an increasing prevalence of autism, now touching every 1 in 59 children.

Our employees are important to us and we strive to provide competitive wages and benefits. But the decisions we make in how to do so should our decisions—not City Hall’s.

We serve. This is perhaps an instance where good intentions will likely have quite the opposite effect.