Austin becomes first city in Texas to require paid sick leave
The Austin City Council voted overnight to make Austin the first city in the state of Texas to approve a mandatory paid sick leave.
The decision means that local business will be require to provide their employees eight days of paid sick leave per year.
The vote came after Council Member Ellen Troxclair offered an amendment to exempt small businesses from the ordinance. "Of course everyone prefers having a job with great benefits. But having a job compared to not having a job is also really nice. And the large businesses that are able to provide those benefits are able to because they started as small businesses and were able to make a profit," said Troxclair.
Over 200 people testified at the City Hall. The ordinance passed 9-2 with two members against, including Troxclair.
That's the number of local businesses that signed onto the Austin Independent Business Alliance list opposed to the paid sick leave policy city council passed last night. "The policy is a problem because I think it's overreaching, it's heavy handed, part of it. Eight days is a lot for a small business to absorb," said Rebecca Melançon.
She is the executive director of the Austin Independent Business Alliance. "What we have done is identified a pain point in our community that some people can't take a day off to be sick and we've just shifted, and we've just shifted that pain point from one segment of the community to another," she said.
But Dan Gillotte, the chief grocery officer at Wheatsville Co-op testified in front of city council Thursday night in support of paid sick leave. "This system basically sets up a floor for sick pay and for many businesses, it's not going to be very much of a transition at all," he said.
The workers at Wheatsville already get paid sick time, although Gillotte isn't certain just yet of what Wheatsville offers meets requirements. "We think that you can't base public policy on the benevolence of business owners, you have to set up some rules," he said. He claims paid sick leave is not much of a financial burden for most businesses. "I think a lot of businesses just flat right out don't want additional rules period," Gillotte said.