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Seattle Restaurants On the Paid Sick Leave Proposal

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The Seattle Times talks to a host of local restaurants with different stances on the City Council proposal that would require every business in Seattle to give employees paid sick leave. Restaurants, with their narrow margins and typically limited employee benefits, have become a much-publicized aspect of this debate among the city's small businesses.

According to the Times, about 30 small businesses support the proposal, including "about a dozen high-profile restaurant owners, such as Jody Hall of Cupcake Royale and Molly Moon Neitzel of Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream." Neitzel has offered paid sick leave for her employees since April, and said she paid out 15 hours of sick time since then, amongst about 50 employees, at a cost of $200.

In the skeptics' camp is Terry Proios of Eastlake's 14 Carrots Cafe, who says she gives employees days off, unpaid, when they are sick, have a medical situation or family emergency, and generally picks up the slack herself. She tells the Times she's not sure the cafe could absorb the added expense.

Peter Glick, owner of Fremont's Roxy's Diner and new supper club Backdoor at Roxy's classifies himself as neutral, and estimates providing sick leave for his 25 employees would add "no more than a half a week's payroll" or about $6,000 a year to his costs. Other restaurant owners, like Dave Meinert of 5 Point Cafe and Big Mario's, feel better about the proposal after some recent revisions with input from small business owners.

Some are pushing for industry-specific exemptions, such as the good old-fashioned employee shift swap. A City Council committee is discussing the proposal this afternoon, and the full Council vote will likely happen this fall. Seattle would be the third major city in the country to enact such a rule, after DC and San Francisco.

· Proposal to Require Sick Pay Divides Business Community [Seattle Times]
[Photo: Molly Moon's/Facebook]