Ray Fitzgibbon expected Seattle’s law, which took effect in September 2012, to create a nightmare for his Synergy HomeCare business, but he’s been able to afford paying a sick worker and a replacement. “I had used the arithmetic based on a worst-case scenario and it was scary. And in hindsight, it just hasn’t turned out like that,” he says.
Washington, D.C.’s law, which took effect in 2008, hasn’t prompted an exodus of companies. Four years later, a survey found that 88 percent of companies said they would not leave the city because of the law.
But the laws do create some headaches. Workers at law firm Genova Burns Giantomasi Webster often work out of offices in different cities including Newark, Jersey City, New York City and Washington, D.C. Some municipalities have different laws about hour sick time is accrued. Figuring out how to manage sick time when employees work in different locations isn’t easy.
“I’m not sure how the ordinances work if I have one of my staffers in Red Bank (N.J.) work out of my Newark office for a time,” says managing partner Brian Kronick.
Seven years after a paid sick leave law was passed in San Francisco, few companies have complained, says Jim Lazarus, senior vice president for policy of that city’s Chamber of Commerce. The Center for Economic Research/CUNY report on Connecticut’s law found that 60 percent owners it surveyed say keeping records was somewhat or very easy.
Another wrinkle for owners is that they may need to pay two salaries: One for the sick person and one for the person filling in. They also need to track employees’ work hours and report it to the government. Some companies use technology to handle the additional work involved. Playerize, a San Francisco software maker has a program that tracks the sick time that employees accrue and use, says co-founder Lyal Avery.