Paid sick leave a question of costs and benefits for local busin - WNEM TV 5

Paid sick leave a question of costs and benefits for local businesses

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

If tips are greatly appreciated at Angelo's in Flint, then surely the possibilities of a waitress or waiter getting paid sick leave in the future is just as valuable. Especially for employees like Laurie Bush.

"It would be nice. Everybody gets sick and would nice to get paid, if you did need the time off," Bush said.

Paid sick leave has sparked a heated debate in the state house. There's a state wide coalition, which began back in March to sound the alarm for paid sick leave, to the tune of one hour earned for every 30 worked.

It sounds pretty straight-forward. But for owners like Nick Helmkay, the issue is more complicated.

"Basically, it’s going to creep up to us and make us raise our prices," Helmkay said.

Helmkay is the owner of Angelo's with locations in Flint and Grand Blanc.

"When you’re paying more to your help you've got to push it more to your customer: bottom line," Helmkay said.

Which isn’t to say Helmkay doesn’t understand or sympathize with employees and the importance of sick leave.

“If everything goes up in their area that means aren’t they going to be able to afford a hamburger that just went up a dollar a piece too,” Helmkay said. “Right now it's been good, because they making a decent living, we’ve got real good prices to the customers. But if the bottom line goes up are they gonna be able to afford to go out to eat also?"

The restaurant business has changed. Jill Bissbee couldn’t even imagine paid sick leave for a waitress.

“Years ago you might have been able to afford health care with cash, but today with the combination of a poor economy and rising health cost it would be very helpful," Bissbee said.

While Helmkay enjoys interacting with customers, Bush wonders if paid sick leave will be on her plate in the near future. As she puts it, the time for action is now.

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