On the Ballot: Initiative 300

October 21 2011, 11:30 AM

By now, ballots have arrived at Denver residences in the mail—right along with flyers for and against Initiative 300, the so-called "paid sick leave initiative."

It all sounds good; after all, who wouldn't want sick employees to stay home? The problem here is the fine print—and that's what's making Denver's small business community, and especially the local restaurant industry, nervous. This proposal's one-size-fits-all solution requires all businesses with 10 or more employees to offer up to nine paid sick days a year. The concern is that 300 opens the door to abuse because employees do not have to give notice and don't have to get their shifts covered. In the end, this affects customer experience (it's hard to offer the same level of service with fewer staffers) and makes Denver less attractive to businesses considering making a move. 

The reality is that many small businesses—restaurants included—already have some sort of sick leave in place. Restaurants don't want ill workers on the premises, and they also don't want to be told how to run their operations. In fact, according to the Colorado Restaurant Association, since 2006, only nine restaurants have been sited for allowing a sick person to work—this is out of 30,000-plus restaurant inspections.

Much like Amendment 2 (which passed in 1992 and was overturned a year later), 300 underscores the necessity of understanding the nuances before you vote. It's persuasive when the mayor, the governor, the Mile High Business Alliance, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and the Colorado Restaurant Association all oppose 300. 

FYI: This is an all-mail election. Your ballot must be cast and received (by mail or in person) by 7 p.m. on November 1. For a list of voter service centers, click here.