Denver’s Initiative 300. Good idea, bad implementation

I just had a twitter chat (twchat? twat? Chitter? I dunno) with my friend LeVar about Initiative 300 on the Denver ballot.

I’m voting no, he’s voting yes.

The right answer, there isn’t one, at least not in the current initiative.

Here’s my understanding of 300. It forces small businesses to provide paid sick time for employees. This is great, and it bums me out we need a law for what should be a no brainer. Employees shouldn’t have to choose health vs. income. If you’re sick don’t go to work (obviously that can be gamed to no end, and happens all the time).

However many small businesses (Mine included) exist on the knife’s edge. Thankfully we don’t have any employees beyond Nicole and myself right now, because if we did, something like 300 would likely force us to lay off those employees and/or close our doors. No one wins in that scenario.

I’m an altruist. I admit it, and am not ashamed of it. My conferences are cheap because I think thats the right thing to do. I could probably charge more now, and make a lot more money. But that’s not what I believe is the right course of action. In my perfect world businesses do the right thing for all concerned NOT just shareholders. When they can they offer benefits, 401k, etc to their employees, they do it. When they can’t, they don’t. The obvious goal being to provide for your employees because they’re hugely valuable.

Things like 300 make the assumption that small business owners are slime bags, who choose to work their people to the bone and treat them like disposable resources. Some do, some don’t. 300 doesn’t care which you fall into. 300 forces a single course of action no matter what.


My solution? It just now occurred to me while thinking “I wish I had a better answer”. Now I do. I’m very anti laws to enforce behavior. They never work out like expected, and tend to do more bad than good. So how’s about this.

Instead of forcing small businesses to provide something they may not be able to provide therefore forcing them to close their doors (hello, bad for the economy). Give a tax credit to those who can/do provide paid time off? Those small businesses that can’t do it lest they go under, don’t suffer and can try to become a business that can provide for it’s people. Those businesses that can provide paid time off, get a break. Maybe it’s 50% of the total paid time off they offered over the year, i don’t know.

I don’t like adding laws, but if we have to add them, let’s make them rewards for doing the right thing, not barriers and limiters. Heck, you could even make the reward something that comes out of quarterly taxes, so that employers see a more immediate return on their trying to provide a good work environment?

What do you think? I’m still voting no on 300 because it’s a bad idea as it stands. I’d vet yes in a heartbeat for something like what I’ve proposed.

By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

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