In Tale of Two Cities, Employers Get First Say on Sick Pay
Business owners like this tend to think one way about issues like sick pay, while crew members see things differently.
Anyone in private business who thinks they could have made a career in public policy—consider this a cautionary tale.
In order to better understand the debate raging across the country about mandated sick pay (this is the next wave emerging after the higher minimum wage debates), I sat in on one of a couple dozen “listening sessions” a Minneapolis City Council work group is holding, to gain input from all parties about the council’s contemplated proposals. The process makes an entrepreneurial person like me want to put out her eyes.
Yes, we must be respectful of all people’s points of view, but that’s difficult when so many utterances seem devoid of understanding about those people signing the paychecks, rather than those who simply cash them.
One business owner on the panel asked an employee panelist which would he choose, if he had to have one or the other: higher wages, or paid sick leave? The indignant response from the employee and supporters in the audience: Why should we have to choose? Why can’t we have both? Um, because the business has to remain profitable or none of us will have a job, I thought.
But enough editorializing. Here’s what the business owners on the panel had to say (and next I’ll post what the employees on the panel countered.)
Tim Baylor is a McDonald’s franchisee who owns one store in Minneapolis and three in surrounding suburbs. He emphasized: “I’m representing my own opinions, not that of McDonald’s corporate. Eighty-five percent of our restaurants are independently owned and operated.” Of the 10 Mickey D’s in Minneapolis, he said, only two are corporate-owned.
“We do believe in taking care of our employees,” he said. “I do believe in a paid time off policy, and we do incorporate that as well as vacation time.
“One of our biggest concerns is food safety,” he added, so “one of the last things we want,” is people coming in sick. However, a City of Minneapolis-only policy would be a problem, he said. “I don’t know how this works if you don’t do it on a broader scale than just the city. It needs to be regional, or even statewide.”
Rob Mulligan, a franchisee for Jimmy John’s in Minneapolis, has 200 employees. “I’d like to echo “ what Baylor said. “To have consistency across the broader area—I would favor something statewide.”
Tamra Kennedy is a Taco John’s franchisee, and she is actively looking at adding paid time off as an earned benefit for all employees. Her question: “How to make it fair? To make everyone whole or equal in one day—it’s tricky,” she says. For longtime employees who are just now earning sick days, what will they think if everyone gets them via a mandated city policy?
Tim Ehlert works for Buffalo Wild Wings corporate, which owns 592 restaurants and has 575 franchised restaurants. One-sixth of their corporate locations already operate in jurisdictions with a mandated sick leave policy, he said, and he urged Minneapolis policy-makers to try to align with other mandates to make administering the policies simpler. “Generally the devil is in the details,” he said. “Follow the path of other jurisdictions,” he urged, and “don’t put the franchisee and franchisor in the same category. That’s missing the point. The franchisee might have two locations while we operate 592” as corporate stores.
OK, enough from the business owners. Now read below for what the employees have to say.