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TheStreet Open House

Small Business Squabbles Over Paid Sick Time Laws

"We like many bookstores in the country do not pay exceptionally well," says Bradley Graham, owner of Politics & Prose in Washington. "We're very happy to be able to offer additional compensation to the staff in the form of paid sick leave."

Fears that businesses won't be able to grow if they have to pay for sick time are groundless, says Andy Shallal, the Washington restaurant owner.

"With sick leave, we've expanded, we've hired more people," Shallal says. "Business associations tend to go through this apoplectic fit almost to scare people into believing this is going to be a horrible thing for business, when in reality, it's not."

Another reason why many business owners support the laws is they don't want people coming into work and infecting co-workers and customers.

"There's much more awareness among employers about public health concerns," says Ophelia Galindo, a human resources consultant with Buck Consultants in Orange County, Calif. "It's much better for that sick employee to be at home â¿¿ even employers that are struggling realize that's important."

The San Francisco law has created more paperwork for owner Basil Enan, He estimates that tracking how much sick leave his workers accrue takes up 10 percent of his time.

"I'm dealing with the regulatory burden rather than responding to employees' needs," says Enan, CEO of CoverHound, an insurance company.

Small business concerns have been considered as laws were drafted, and owners helped write some of the laws.

"We worked with labor and the city to discuss the impact on small business and asked, how could we do it in a way that could respect small businesses?" says Jody Hall, owner of Cupcake Royale in Seattle. The law that went into effect in September provides for fewer sick days at smaller companies.

Paid sick time also has the support of the Main Street Alliance, a network of small business groups across the country. It worked to get the law passed in Portland, where Jim Houser, who owns Hawthorne Auto Clinic, had to convince other owners that the law would ultimately be in their favor. Their biggest concern was that it might put them at a disadvantage. They didn't want to be forced to provide sick leave unless their competitors had to provide it too, he says.

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