Small Businesses Weigh In: Should Paid Sick Time Be Law?

Paid sick days may be a staple in corporate America, but many small businesses reserve the right to decide whether or not they offer their workers paid time off for days when they're feeling under the weather.

Now, cities like Seattle are beginning to mandate companies of a certain size  give their employees a certain amount of paid sick days per year. Supporters of this move say it allows employees to put their health first instead of coming in when they're sick simply for the paycheck, while those opposed say it is just another unnecessary regulation for small business owners that will cost them more money.

Who knew a runny nose could cause so much uproar? Here’s what our small businesses have to say about mandated sick pay.

Office Relief San Leandro, Calif.

Mike Harrell, IT manager for the office furniture and supplies company, said the business has only 15 employees that all rely heavily on one another to fulfill client needs. Each team member has their own responsibilities and also has to cover for others when someone calls out.

"Office Relief has pooled earned vacation and sick leave into one benefit called Personal Time Off (PTO)," he said. "If an employee takes multiple unscheduled absences, it does put a pressure on the rest of the team to cover for that person."

Because the team is so tight-knit, Harrell said members all know when someone is sick or has a family emergency, and it is also apparent when people try to take advantage of the situation. As for mandating sick time, Harrell said the decision should be left in the hands of each individual company.

"Our policy works for us and our clients," he said. "Why the government thinks they know better how to run a business by force takes away the respect and honor gained within a group built upon trust and responsibility."

Ask Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Jody DeVere, founder of the automotive advice Website for women,  said employees rarely use their sick pay benefits at her company. Also, when they are sick, they have the option to work from home rather than use up their paid sick time.

"We are an international company and serve multiple time zones. My work force has the added benefit of choosing time zone work schedules and the infrastructure to work from home at 100% productivity," DeVere said. "I believe making this available to employees widens the hiring pool for our company to employ a very skilled workforce from any location and allows them the ability to take care of their families better." DeVere said the benefit of having flexible schedules for employees creates a more supportive environment for families, and single parents in particular. She said in the six years her company has been open, she has never had a worker abuse sick pay or flex time.

"My employees often work from home and/or at the office to make up for any lost hours of productivity, they are very committed. Sometimes I actually have to tell employees to stop working," she said. "More companies should embrace flex schedules and work from home opportunities to increase retention, loyalty and job satisfaction of employees. Our family supportive culture is perceived as part of our benefit package."

SnapPages Austin, Texas

Founder Steve Testone said his Website production company is too small to see issues with sick pay affect them as of yet. However, he does have a simple solution for other small businesses that struggle with workers abusing sick days.

"I think the best way to deal with this is to hire trustworthy people. The type of people you have to worry about abusing sick days, are probably not the type of people you want working for you in the first place," he said.