Ken Weinstein: Why I oppose giving workers paid sick leave

    (This is a letter Ken Weinstein, owner of the Trolley Car Diner & Trolley Car Cafe, sent to Philadelphia City Council stating why he opposes a bill that would mandate paid sick days. This bill is up for a final vote on Thursday, June 9, 2011 – The bill was amended to exempt businesses with five or less employees and is rescheduled for a final vote Thurs June 16, 2011)

    June 8, 2011

    Dear Council Member,

    I am writing to urge you to oppose Bill 080474, the Sick Leave Bill. If enacted, this legislation would have detrimental effects on Philadelphia restaurants, other small businesses and their employees.

    On the surface, this legislation sounds great – give employees seven days of paid sick leave that they can use when they really need them. Unfortunately, nothing could be farther from the truth!

    Firstly, to make up for the cost of these guaranteed sick days, restaurant owners will have to decrease pay for hourly workers or expect more hours out of salaried employees. I know my employees would rather be paid more rather than have paid sick days that more responsible employees will never use.

    Secondly, my General Manager reports to me that 50% of all employee health related call outs are because the employee has stayed out too late the previous night partying. I am not passing judgment on these employees. What they do on their own time is up to them. I am simply suggesting that less responsible employees will use up all seven of the sick days every year while the other more responsible employees will have to pick up their shifts and cover for them, while experiencing pay decreases to cover the cost.

    I am not your usual small business owner that opposes all legislation that will hurt our bottom line. I have strongly supported minimum wage increases, no smoking in restaurants and guaranteed health care coverage. This issue is different. It will help a small group of employees who work for unreasonable small business owners that don’t provide sick leave when necessary while hurting a majority of the employees that don’t work for one of these unreasonable bosses.

    Instead of forcing paid sick leave, why not enact legislation that forces business owners to provide unpaid sick leave when an employee really needs it? No one should be fired because they need time off for health reasons just as no one should be rewarded for staying out too late and drinking heavily the night before they are expected to work.

    Proponents of this legislation do not understand the nature of the restaurant business. I gladly supply five paid sick days per year to my real estate staff but none of them have ever used all five days.

    An across the board requirement does not make sense. I hope you will join me in opposing Bill 080474 before damage is done to our industry.


    Ken Weinstein


    Trolley Car Diner, Mt. Airy

    Trolley Car Café, East Falls

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