City Hall

Tuesday Jolt: Paid Sick Leave (Mostly) a Success

A new audit for the city concludes that most employers are offering paid sick leave, but not always as much as is required under the law passed in 2012.

By Afternoon Jolt April 22, 2014

Afternoon Jolt

Today's winner: Paid sick leave (and the $15Now campaign?)

A new audit released by the city auditor may be instructive for proponents of the $15 minimum wage: It concludes that employers are indeed implementing the paid sick leave law, and that it isn't costing them nearly as much as they predicted when the city council was debating the proposal three years ago. The audit, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, concludes:

The majority of employers have seen no effect of the Ordinance on customer service, employee morale, predictability of employee absenteeism, or profitability. Anecdotal cost information puts the cost of providing leave at about four tenths of one percent of total revenue. There is no evidence that the Ordinance caused employers to go out of business or leave Seattle. 

Businesses opposed to the $15 minimum have claimed that the proposal will cause small businesses in particular to shut down, or will drive businesses out of the city; opponents of paid sick leave made similar claims about that proposal in 2011. 

Ninety-six percent of all employers told the auditors that they provide paid sick leave.

However, the news wasn't all good: 39 percent of employers reported that they don't provide all the leave required (e.g., leave for part-time workers). "Employees of some larger employers (those with 250 or more full-time equivalents) as well as some temporary and seasonal workers are particularly likely to lack leave." 

Advocates for a "total compensation" minimum-wage compromise argue that the legislation also needs a strong enforcement component to make sure businesses are correctly calculating things like tips and other benefits into total compensation so that workers don't make less than $15 overall. 



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