Debate over paid sick leave rages on in Seattle

Debate over paid sick leave rages on in Seattle »Play Video
SEATTLE -- The Seattle City Council is embroiled in a debate over paid sick leave.

The proposal would require large companies to offer up to nine paid sick days while smaller companies would have to offer five. A group in favor of it rallied in downtown Seattle, chanting: "Pardon us for being rude we don't want to infect your food."

The Coalition for a Healthy Workforce claims people who handle your food go to work sick because they don't get paid sick days.

"This is a serious situation," said coalition member Marilyn Watkins. "It affects everybody's health. Often times it works out that if you do work in an office and you don't have much direct contact with the public, you get paid sick leave but ironically it's people who work in retail, in food service even sometimes in health care personal care work, who don't get any paid sick time at all."

The city is considering an ordinance that would require business owners to give their employees paid sick days. Right now, close to 200,000 employees in the city get no paid sick leave at all.

The ordinance is still in committee with several issues being discussed. For example, Woodland Park Zoo, which gives all of its full time employees paid sick leave, wants clarification on seasonal and temporary workers, like student interns, security officers and teachers.

"We have some teachers who are fully benefited in their jobs with their school districts who come in and teach summer courses," said David Schaefer with the zoo. "Would we then have to provide benefits for them as well?"

Other non-profit groups, including the Pacific Science Center, want council members to consider the burden the mandate would put on human resource managers.

"Please consider all the broader discussions and implications of this legislation," said Laura Spies. "Step back and give it a higher level of attention. Assuring employers and employees alike that we can achieve these objectives without adverse impasse."

Several council members say they still have questions regarding the ordinance and will take it up again at their next meeting on Aug. 10.

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