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.

5 Responses to “Denver’s Initiative 300. Good idea, bad implementation”

  1. Furthermore, if you laid off your wife because she got sick. . .oh man. If that happens, I’ll come help you build a doghouse to sleep in.

  2. LeVar Battle says:

    John, I love this notion. Your positive spin on a volatile situation is a great idea. The argument you present really makes me think twice, hell six times, about my choice to vote no, but I feel most that oppose the Initiative aren’t doing so for the betterment of both the businesses and employees, like yourself.

    I applaud you for being the FIRST I’ve come across opposing it to truly care about both sides. Small business owners that I’ve worked for in the past, save for a few, have jaded me on a subject that I think is very important. I hope this doesn’t end badly for all, but I’m willing to live with casualties.

  3. John Wilker says:

    LOL. Dave, yeah pretty sure I’d be in a special type of dog-house!

    Var, yeah it makes me sad that something like this even has to come up and I know it does because so many SB owners are d-bags.

    I think too many on both sides have a hard time seeing past their side of it. Glad you’re at least willing to see another side! Regardless how you vote, going in open minded is the most important part.

    This is a great conversation on so many fronts!

  4. Devin says:

    Even for companies that can afford to do so, many don’t realize that business don’t just cut their profit margins to enable things like this. They’ll recoup the costs in one of two ways (or both)

    1. Raise prices on their goods/services to consumers.

    2. Lower salaries or raises for employess.

    It’s no different then raising taxes on a business (in which forced paid sick time has the same effect as raising taxes). The burden is never put on the corporation’s profit margin, but rather passed down to the consumer/employee.

    And don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming business… it’s just how the economy works. A big part of our 9% unemployment is already due to over-regulation, so why would we want to keep adding more regulation?

  5. polyGeek says:

    “Reward good behavior” – works for dogs so it should work for SB owners. :-)

    I would lean more toward your side in regards to SB issues. But when it comes to corporations I say regulate the hell out of them. By their very nature corporations are greedy, self-intrested, entities and have only profits in mind when it comes to policy.

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