Spokane Council mandates paid sick leave for employees - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Spokane Council mandates paid sick leave for employees

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The scene at City Council Monday. The scene at City Council Monday.
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Update: After a 5-hour council meeting that included three hours of testimony from 72 people, Spokane City Council voted 6 to 1 to mandate Spokane businesses provide employees three paid sick days a year.

Previous coverage:

Spokane City Council is considering a proposal to require three paid sick days for employees in Spokane.

“They’re my biggest assets,” says Shahrokh Nikfar, owner of Mediterrano and supporter of the ordinance. “They represent my business. They take care of my business. They want the best for me so I should want the best for them.”

He says providing sick days is good for business.

“If I start penny pinching and going hey I cannot afford giving some extra hours to my employees who are sick, I'm actually harming myself,” Nikfar says.

But others don't think the city council has the right to do this.

“I have no problem with paying sick leave, but that's up to each individual business,” says Jim Hanley, co-owner of the Tin Roof.

He has had paid sick leave for his employees for a while. Hanley has questions about the ordinance, including who would enforce it and what exactly are the effects. He says businesses may move away from Spokane if it goes through.

“If they're going to pass it at a state level where everybody in the state of Washington is going to be governed by it, well that's fine,” Hanley says. “But to have a little community out here in Spokane to decide we're going to have an additional cost to business and not have the same cost if you go a couple miles that way or a couple miles that way.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paid sick leave costs a business 25 cents per hour worked for each employee. A person works an average of 1700 hours a year, so it would cost a business $425 per employee per year.

While there are costs, Nickfar says he thinks it’s worth it.

“The more we give to the community, to the people that we're associated with, the more will come back to us and we'll benefit from it,” he says.

City council members are expected to vote on this proposal Monday night. 

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