On Wednesday, Stephanie Reyes, the Chamber’s VP of Public Policy, participated in a six -member panel invited by the San Antonio Nonprofit Council to discuss the Paid Sick Leave ordinance passed by the San Antonio City Council in August.
Natalie Griffith, President and CEO for Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio, moderated the discussion and began with an overview of the paid sick leave ordinance, which mandates employers in San Antonio provide earned paid sick time to employees who work 80 hours or more during a one-year period.
During the discussion, Stephanie emphasized the detrimental effects the mandate will have on San Antonio businesses – large and small – when implementing the ordinance. Employers who do not currently offer paid sick leave will experience new costs, lost production due to more workers taking leave, and additional new paperwork and recordkeeping costs to put the systems in place to comply with the mandate. She emphasized how the ordinance will negatively impact their bottom line and may ultimately force businesses to down-size, cut other benefits already offered, or close. She also discussed how challenging it to run a business with the current bevy of regulations required by the local, state and federal governments, and how the Chamber believes this ordinance is another layer of bureaucracy. “Businesses know how to run their operations best, and they know they need to offer incentives to their employees to remain competitive. It should be up to them to work within their profit margins and decide if and when to offer paid sick time,” Reyes said.
Stephanie also spoke about efforts to have the ordinance preempted by the Texas Legislature in the upcoming legislative session. She discussed how the paid sick leave issue is the Chamber’s top priority in our state legislative agenda, and how we are working closely with legislators, partner Chambers of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), the Texas Association of Business (TAB) and other business organizations around the state to ensure bills are filed and we garner support.
Deborah Fraser, CPA with Armstrong & Vaughn Associates, and John Seybold from Employer Flexible spoke on the accounting and recordkeeping obligations for the ordinance along with what auditors will look at during audits.
Alex Birnel, Advocacy Manager of Move Texas, spoke on behalf of Working Texans For Paid Sick Time, the grassroots organization who submitted the petition. Alex discussed why they believe an ordinance mandating paid sick leave is necessary. He was accompanied by Salena Santibanez-Guipzoty, owner of GPS Drywall, who discussed her perspective as a for-profit business owner and what she was doing to prepare for implementing the ordinance.
Councilman Manny Palaez, San Antonio City Council District 8, provided his perspective as a City Council Member and as an attorney. He discussed that Metro Health is currently working to develop an implementation plan, which is challenging because this new ordinance is outside the department’s typical scope of work. He assured the attendees that the community will be involved in that process.