Everyone Wins: Small Business Owners Easily Dealing With Paid Sick Leave Laws

March 21, 2014  |  

Some thought small business owners would revolt when told they had to give paid sick leave, but the opposite seems to be the case.

New York City and two New Jersey cities — Jersey City and Newark — are the latest to adopt such laws. San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Portland, Ore. and Connecticut already require employers to give workers paid time off when they are sick or have to care for sick relatives. The laws vary city by city, but typically they require employers to give employees as much as five days of sick time, accrued at the rate of 1 hour for every 30 or 40 hours worked.

But some cities have resisted. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has vetoed sick leave bills twice and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce even lobbied against the laws because of concerns that businesses would shy away from the city and others would leave.

Such concerns seem unfounded; early research shows the laws have few downsides for profits. In fact, many small businesses reported they don’t feel the law is hard to comply with and that many already gave employees paid sick time.

Nearly 47 percent of 251 companies surveyed by the Center for Economic and Policy Research and the City University of New York’s Murphy Institute said the law has not affected costs. “Only 6.5 percent said costs rose 5 percent or more. And 60 percent said keeping records was somewhat or very easy. The think tank’s research tends to support paid time off for workers, including family and medical leave,” reports Inc.

There are some drawbacks to the law, however. When employees skip around to offices in different cities that have various sick leave laws it is hard for firms to track sick leave. And, though cities have passed laws, there are still companies who do not comply.

“Seven years after a paid sick leave law was passed in San Francisco, few companies have complained, says Jim Lazarus, senior vice president for policy of that city’s Chamber of Commerce. The Center for Economic Research/CUNY report on Connecticut’s law found that 60 percent owners it surveyed say keeping records was somewhat or very easy,” reports Inc.

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