(SPOKANE, Wash.) – Greater Spokane Incorporated has put forth a recommendation for further review of the proposed Earned Safe and Sick Leave (ESSL) ordinance that will mandate all businesses within the City of Spokane to provide paid sick leave.
The City of Spokane is exploring the pros and cons of implementing an Earned Safe and Sick Leave ordinance. GSI has not taken a position of such an ordinance since no ordinance has been drafted, but the organization is concerned that there has not been adequate analysis of the economic impact to local businesses, especially those that do not offer such benefits. A recent GSI membership poll showed that approximately 70% of GSI member poll respondents offer some form of paid sick leave or paid time off. According to members of the ESSL Stakeholder Group, 60% of all businesses within the City also offer such benefits.
The majority of those who do not offer this benefit are smaller enterprises. “We would like to see more information about the 40% who do not offer ESSL,” said GSI President & CEO Steve Stevens. “We believe most businesses understand the need to take care of their employees so we need to clearly understand the reasons they don’t offer ESSL, which perhaps are financial and would create tremendous burdens on these businesses, rather than that they simply do not want to offer the benefit,” he said.
GSI recommends that the City gain a better understanding of the perspective of all businesses on this issue, as well as the nature of the businesses that currently do not offer paid sick leave and the reasons they do not, and to evaluate ways to overcome the obstacles to providing paid sick leave for employees. Under a new ordinance, even larger firms that currently offer some form of ESSL will be accountable to share information and compliance with the new law. It will also be important to understand the impact to the region’s business climate with one municipal government requiring ESSL among other municipalities that will not.
GSI further recommends the Spokane City Council broaden the existing ESSL Task Force to include the Mayor’s office. GSI believes the ESSL stakeholder group should research the financial impacts ESSL has brought on other communities across Washington State. The ordinance would need to be administered by the Executive Branch and to date, there has not been an analysis of the costs or manpower associated with the City ramping up to handle record-keeping and enforcement.