Business and labor are two sides of the same coin. Hurt one and the other does not go about unharmed. The Austin city council ignores this truth with their newly proposed ordinance mandating paid sick leave.
The proposed plan would force “any person, company, corporation, firm, partnership, labor organization, non-profit organization or association” in Austin to provide all employees who work a certain number of hours with at least 8 days of paid sick leave. This proposal could be grossly damaging for area businesses who, as a result of absorbing huge new costs, could be forced to forgo giving employees raises, let go of some employees, or even close their doors altogether.
Council members claim to have considered “feedback from many … conversations with employers” before drafting the ordinance. But that’s hard to believe given the recent stinging criticism from the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce who last week said: “While mandated paid sick leave has been broadly discuss since Labor Day, a draft ordinance was not made public until less than a week ago. An Austin City Council vote has been called to occur just 19 business days later. The whole process is being unnecessarily rush despite its potential impact on 30,000 Austin businesses.” [emphasis mine]
Others have voiced their concerns as well. Yesterday’s Austin-American Statesman featured an op-ed by local business owners Ellen Wood and Mason Ayer who expressed their frustration with the city. “Once again, the Austin City Council didn’t really want to hear from us,” Wood and Mason said. “We are concerned this [ordinance] sends a message that city leaders wanted to appear to have gained public input on the ordinance, without the hassle of actually hearing it from those most directly affected.”
In spite of this feedback, city council is planning to vote on the ordinance on February 15. Let’s hope the city makes the right decision and does away with this silly idea altogether, lest businesses and workers alike suffer the consequences.