Requiring paid sick leave will hurt Hispanics - Albuquerque Journal

Requiring paid sick leave will hurt Hispanics

Requiring paid sick leave will deprive many Hispanics of accomplishing the American dream of (owning) businesses.

The proposed Bernalillo County Paid Sick Leave Ordinance will create a disproportionate hardship on Hispanics who own small businesses and the Hispanic and poor populations that they serve. The ordinance that the County Commission is considering would require businesses with even two employees to provide paid sick leave. It would apply to all businesses in the East Mountains, and the South and North Valley, as well as those required to get a license from Bernalillo County to do business.

When Congress passed the FMLA over 25 years ago, it exempted small businesses and did not require employers to provide paid sick leave. Even Congress recognized the public policy of balancing the required sick leave with the unique hardships it creates on small business even when sick leave is unpaid. This proposed Bernalillo County ordinance ignores these hardships entirely and makes no exceptions for small businesses. For these reasons, the (“AHCC”) has joined other business organizations in opposing the proposed ordinance.

The AHCC specifically opposes the proposed ordinance because it will create a disparate impact on the Hispanic Community in Albuquerque. Proponents have ignored these hardships and instead portray all businesses and those who oppose the ordinance as being against caring for sick families. This could not be further from the truth, especially for a small Hispanic-owned business.

Caring for family is a core value of our Hispanic community. For Hispanic-owned businesses, this value is even stronger. Every day, they work hard, long hours to achieve the American dream of owning a successful business that can provide for their families and the families of their employees. They are not wealthy business owners, and often make personal sacrifices to keep the doors open and pay their employees — they don’t need an ordinance to require them to take care of their employees, because they already do. The AHCC proudly represents these businesses whose voices have not been heard by the proponents of this proposed ordinance. The AHCC attempted numerous times to meet the co-sponsors of the proposed ordinance, Commission Chair Maggie Hart Stebbins and Commissioner Debbie O’Malley to no avail.

More than 60% of the AHCC businesses in Albuquerque are Hispanic-owned, and many employ fewer than five employees. Albuquerque’s South Valley, which will be directly affected by this ordinance, is comprised of predominately Hispanic-owned small businesses that serve the Hispanic community. This ordinance will create hardships not only for small businesses, but also for the communities they serve. The financial hardships of administrative costs for tracking leave, paying for sick leave, and potential for meritless lawsuits will force these owners to close their doors.

The AHCC, on behalf of these small Hispanic-owned businesses, asks you to contact your county commissioner and urge them not to pass this ordinance as passing it will deprive small Hispanic business owners of their American Dream.

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