Countdown for city's paid sick leave ordinance begins

Ordinance goes into effect Aug. 1

By Sarah Acosta - Reporter, Ken Huizar - Photojournalist, Lee Carpio - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - The paid sick leave San Antonio ordinance will go into effect on Aug. 1.

A  local woman said she needs the sick leave to survive.

“It's about time that we get paid sick leave,” said Marilyn Washington, 71, who works in home health care.

Last year, she struggled with nerve damage in her arm for four months, leaving her without a monthly paycheck. She said it was a struggle, especially since she's the sole provider for five people in her household, which also consists of two older adults and two of her great-grandchildren under the age of 10.

“So that fell on me. I had to make sure that we kept food in our house. Make sure that the lights stayed on," Washington said.

If she were to find herself in that situation again, Washington said there is comfort in the upcoming paid sick leave ordinance.

When the ordinance goes into effect, it will require all businesses that have six or more employees to give one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, but not everyone is happy about it.

A local business man said he believes the ordinance will majorly impact small businesses.

“It's unconstitutional,” said Abe Juarez, who owns MMC Modern Living Concepts

Juarez has 60 employees in his commercial furniture installation business. He said the new paid sick leave ordinance will cost his business about $70,000.

Juarez said his established business can financially handle the impact, but his concern is that the ordinance will hurt the mom-and-pop businesses, especially those in the service industry.

“Most of these people I know are in the food business, and there is not a whole lot of money in the food business and the bar business,” Juarez said.

Juarez said he believes prices for products and services will go up. He said he doesn't see the ordinance lasting long.

“I truly feel like the state will come in and turn this decision,” he said. “I feel like, again, the city just wasted a lot of taxpayer money, effort and time.”

As for Washington, she said the ordinance is something that's needed.

“If you have never walked in another person’s shoes that had to struggle to pay for stuff when you sick, you never understand,” Washington said.

The city will not fine the businesses for violating the paid sick leave ordinance until April 2020.

In Austin, the city's paid sick leave ordinance has currently been held up in the court system.

Currently, nothing has been filed against San Antonio. One way the ordinance can be impacted across the state is if the Texas Supreme Court rules on it.

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