Does the City of Spokane need an Earned Safe and Sick Leave ordinance that will mandate all City of Spokane businesses to provide paid sick leave? That is a question that the Earned Safe and Sick Leave Stakeholder group is working to answer, and GSI has a seat at the table.
The stakeholder group has met twice, with a possible two meetings remaining. This task force is comprised of multiple voices, all dedicated to determining what is best for our community. The Earned Safe and Sick Leave policy will address illness and domestic violence issues that some employees may encounter. Paid sick leave can be used for personal illness, injury, or preventative care; care for a family member’s illness or preventative care; survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking to attend court or be relocated to a safe home; and closure of workplace or child’s school or place of care by public official to limit exposure to infectious agent, biological toxin or hazardous material.
Since the stakeholder group is still meeting to decide what the policy will ultimately look like, it is unknown whether the policy will base leave off of employer size, how many hours can be accrued, or what the cap will be.
Through a recent membership poll we discovered that 70% of responding member businesses already provide paid sick leave and benefits packages to their employees. As the vast majority of those surveyed are located in Spokane, and already offer paid sick leave, it is questionable if this policy would actually be effective in our community.
Survey results showed that some respondents would change the size of their labor force, creating higher unemployment rates, and that businesses would move operations entirely out of the City of Spokane as they would not be able to support or pay for the cost of this new mandate to business.
The GSI Public Policy Council and Committee members made the recommendation to wait until the stakeholder group has convened before taking a position on this policy. However, we understand the concerns of the business community. We know that we need an environment that creates jobs, provides the business community the ability to provide their own innovative approaches to solving employee retention, and most of all – businesses cannot adhere to a one-size-fits-all approach. The question that we continue to bring to the stakeholder group is, “Why do we need a sick policy ordinance when so many of our businesses already provide sick leave?” We will continue to work toward an answer as we advocate for you.