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Study Shows More Productivity, Lower Turnover Offset Cost of Implementing San Antonio's Paid Sick Time Rule 

click to enlarge Working Texans for Paid Sick Time launched their San Antonio petition last year. The coalition collected 144,000 signatures. - SANFORD NOWLIN
  • Sanford Nowlin
  • Working Texans for Paid Sick Time launched their San Antonio petition last year. The coalition collected 144,000 signatures.
San Antonio small businesses would incur costs of about $16 million under a city law requiring them to provide workers with paid sick leave, according to a new study. However, that would be largely offset by an $11 million gain from better productivity, reduced worker turnover and fewer flu outbreaks.

What's more, the community would experience an additional $33 million benefit from lowered medical costs, the city-commissioned research by St. Mary's University economists Steve Nivin and Belinda Roman found.

The study was released Thursday as council begins another round of discussion on the city's delayed paid sick time ordinance

"The study reinforces what we expected to be true," said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. "From a public health perspective, paid sick time is good for communities, good for business and good for employees."

Council adopted the rule in summer of 2018 after progressive and labor groups collected 144,000 signatures calling for a public vote on the issue.

However, after business groups sued this summer to shut down the ordinance, the city struck a deal that delayed implementation until December and set up a 13-member panel to tinker with the ordinance so it can gain business support and better withstand legal challenges.

Nirenberg said he hopes the study and the city's "good faith effort" to tweak the law will convince the business community from digging in its heels again.

But labor groups have expressed skepticism that the delay will bring any such guarantee. Business interests waged a successful court battle to halt a similar ordinance in Austin, they point out.

"The fact that there's a delay at all is a problem," Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy told the Current in July. "And, if we're seeing this pushed back and don't know what's at the other end, then that's an even bigger problem."

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