We were lucky to participate in yesterday’s hearing before the State Affairs Committee. Below is my testimony which I hope starts to get at why this is not just an issue regarding paid sick leave but about business’ ethical responsibility and the role of city government.
“Good morning Madam Chair Huffman and members of the committee. My name is Adam Orman, owner of L’Oca d’Oro an Italian restaurant in Austin that has been open for three years. I am here today to testify against SB15.
Starting in the fall of 2017, Austin City Council reached out to ask if we wanted to be involved in the creation of a Paid Sick Leave ordinance. We attended several meetings with over two dozen businesses where we had the opportunity to comment on all aspects of the proposal. It was explained to us in detail and, when there were drafts released, we received them via email along with phone calls from Council members to follow up as to our concerns.
We were honored to be a part of this successful process and there was ample evidence that any business that wanted to be involved would not have been excluded. This seems like a model for how local business regulation should be enacted.
Functionally, the ordinance imposes no administrative burden. Between me and our bookkeeper, we were able to easily implement a tool that tracks accrual of sick days that requires no further adjustments. Our employees call in sick instead of trying to come to work. They go see doctors which is a requirement for receiving sick pay after a certain threshold. This keeps our other employees healthy and is, as a restaurant, obviously in the interest of public health. If all of our employees used all of their sick days, it would represent less than ½ of 1% of our net sales and, trust me, this is not because we are awash in cash. And, finally, over the life of our business we continue to add employees.
Senators, I believe it is a privilege to own a business in this great state that provides so much to make running my business efficient. I hear from my wife all the time that no one made me open a restaurant. Because of that, we, as business owners need to recognize that we need to act in ways that sustain and grow not just our businesses but the health of our communities. Restaurants are permitted to pay $2.13/hr and are not required to offer anything in the way of Health Benefits. Paid Sick Leave should be the bare minimum of benefits offered to keep our employees healthy which in turn keeps our communities healthy.
If other municipalities decide that this is not a necessary regulation for all businesses, so be it. But, Austin, through an open & inclusive process should be allowed to implement the Paid Sick Leave ordinance that was voted on by the democratically elected City Council last year.
Thank you Senators. “