TWO VIEWS: Sick-leave policy lifts struggling workers, city’s economy

The restaurant industry has been instrumental in educating consumers about the health and environmental benefits of sustainably farmed produce and humanely raised animals; we believe it is time for us to catch up to other sectors with how we pay our employees and what benefits we provide.

Because our employees are consumers as well as workers, we believe that providing good jobs in an industry that is racing to the bottom isn’t just the right thing to do; it also helps our business and our economy thrive.

TWO VIEWS: Austin sick leave policy will push entrepreneurs to suburbs.

That’s why L’Oca d’Oro has joined 20 other Austin businesses to support a citywide policy to ensure that all workers in Austin can earn paid sick days. The city of Austin is following the lead of 40 other cities, counties, and states that have already enacted paid sick day laws to improve public health and support working families.

More than one in every three Austin workers — and nearly two in three Austin workers in the service sector — is unable to earn paid sick days at work, forcing them to choose between paying the bills and going to work sick — or sending a sick child to school. According to data from the Economic Policy Institute, being out sick for even half a day without pay costs the equivalent of a low-wage family’s monthly spending for fruits and vegetables. Being out for nearly three days equals the family’s entire grocery budget for a month.

As much as we struggle to succeed in a competitive market, making sure employees have the time they need to take care of themselves and their loved ones when they are ill also boosts productivity and reduces turnover, which can be a significant expense for employers. If restaurants provided a proper hourly wage to tipped employees and began to provide some of the benefits — like paid sick days — that other industries routinely provide, it is possible that restaurant work would no longer be seen as transitory work.

HOW WE GOT HERE: Campaign launches effort to get paid sick leave for all Austin workers.

Unlike most other restaurants, we include the kitchen staff at L’Oca d’Oro in the tip pool to increase our cooks’ paychecks. Still, no cook in Austin is in a financial position to comfortably sacrifice any days of lost pay — and in many other industries, he or she wouldn’t have to.

In the restaurant industry, ensuring that our employees don’t come in when they’re sick also helps to reduce the risk of spreading foodborne illnesses. Cities with paid sick day policies have seen flu infection rates decrease by approximately six to seven percent.

We hope other business owners who feel as strongly as we do about their employees will join us in supporting paid sick days for all Austin workers. Our city is unlike any other in Texas because of our progressive values, and that’s exactly why my business partner and I decided to put down roots and open our doors here. We are excited to work with the Austin City Council to find a solution that works for our community and our economy.

We don’t believe anyone who works in Austin should have to come into work sick to make ends meet — or must choose between buying groceries and sending a sick child to school. Austin can guarantee a stronger, healthier workforce by providing the opportunity for workers to earn paid sick days.

Orman is a managing partner of L’Oca d’Oro.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: Viewpoints delivers the latest perspectives on current events.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Who’s worse: Trump or his lawyers?

Gee, we’ve been hearing a ton about the turmoil in the president’s legal team. You probably have questions. Is this something else I have to think about in the middle of the night when I’m staring at the ceiling? Because really, I’ve got enough. We’re talking about chaos and turnover among the people defending Donald Trump...
Opinion: Liberals don’t hate America, and conservatives aren’t racists

WASHINGTON — I’m a rock-ribbed conservative who wants Republicans to keep control of Congress. But I’m not unhappy that Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone appears to have lost the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. Why? Because he insulted my mother. Trailing his Democratic opponent in a district...
Commentary: From Iraq to Austin, motives behind violence are elusive
Commentary: From Iraq to Austin, motives behind violence are elusive

Earlier this week, as Austin nursed its collective SXSW intellectual and artistic hangovers, the freshness and transparency that are hallmarks of the yearly festival slowly yielded the headlines to the developing storyline of a serial bomber who was terrorizing our city. As law enforcement publicly pieced together their case and a small army of federal...
Letters to the editor: March 23, 2018
Letters to the editor: March 23, 2018

If our City Council chooses to look elsewhere for a permanent chief of police, they are existing further from reality than I imagined. This man has been dealing with situations that are very far from what is normal — and he has handled it with authority and grace. Our police department needs him because he is familiar with the problems here in...
Impact on community clear: Austin bombings were acts of terror
Impact on community clear: Austin bombings were acts of terror

Let’s call this what it was: Austin was the target of a terrorist attack. Some officials have shied away from branding the recent bombings as terrorism — even as the string of explosions in Austin killed two people and injured five others in attacks that targeted people for no apparent reason, striking fear in neighborhoods across the city...
More Stories