Backlash from small businesses after city passes paid sick leave ordinance

City votes 9-2 to pass ordinance following 140,000 signature petition

SAN ANTONIO – Backlash is coming from small businesses after San Antonio approved a mandatory paid sick time ordinance.

The City Council passed the ordinance Thursday on a 9-to-2 vote after advocates turned in a petition with more than 140,000 signatures.

When it passed, there were cheers of support, but not everyone was clapping.

"Of the small business owners I've talked to since this has become an issue, all of them are really concerned about it," said Chris Forbrich, who owns two small businesses and is also the chairman of Bexar County's Committee on Small Minority and Women Owned Businesses.

Forbrich said any ordinance that mandates small businesses to cough up extra money threatens to destroy them.

"With escalating property taxes and all kinds of regulatory burdens put on by the state government, it's not helping people stay in businesses and it's not helping to make any jobs," he said. "A lot of small businesses offer services on a very competitive environment. They have very little margin."


  • The ordinance applies to all businesses in San Antonio except government agencies and school districts.

  • Employers are required to give employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

  • There will be a yearly cap of 64 hours for employees, or 48 hours for small employers with 15 employees or fewer.

  • The ordinance will not affect businesses that already provide that amount or more.

  • The ordinance takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018. However, business owners have until Aug. 1, 2019, to begin offering paid sick leave. Businesses with five employees or fewer have until Aug. 1, 2021, to comply.

  • Metropolitan Health District will enforce the ordinance. Business owners will face a $500 fine for each violation.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Thursday he is aware of business owners' concerns.

"I think there are lots of flaws with the ordinance. It has some disparate impacts to small businesses, very small businesses," Nirenberg said.

He said passing the ordinance was the only way City Council would have the flexibility to alter it and appease both sides.

"So we can now have a dialogue and actually make some changes to it in the event that the legislature or the courts do not act," he said.

The Texas attorney general and several state legislators have already taken action against the city of Austin's similar ordinance and they say they'll do the same with San Antonio.

About the Author:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.