Doug Knight’s household has owned Springfield amusement park Knight’s Action Park since 1930, himself for 43 of these years.
The pandemic was a bear — Knight fought to maintain his doorways open, and once they closed for COVID-19, he pushed to reopen as quickly as potential. Inflation, too, has been an impediment. From inflatable interior tubes to chlorine for the swimming pools, costs have risen for “everything we buy,” and now a brand new Illinois legislation represents “another bump on the road” for enterprise house owners, he says.
On Monday, Illinois turned one in every of three U.S. states to mandate paid day off “for any reason,” as much as 40 hours per yr for full-time workers. Small enterprise house owners in Illinois say they know the significance of taking good care of their staff, however some view the paid go away requirement as a government-imposed burden.
“When you hit the big bump and go off the cliff, what does that do for ya?” Knight mentioned.
The laws takes impact on Jan. 1, 2024. Employees will accrue one hour of paid go away for each 40 hours labored as much as 40 hours whole, and may begin utilizing the time as soon as they’ve labored for 90 days.
Knight and his brother, a co-owner, primarily make use of seasonal workers not coated by the measure, however they should present paid go away for 10 year-round staff. The veteran enterprise proprietor mentioned he isn’t fearful and can juggle no matter comes subsequent, although customers will finally pay the distinction.
But proponents argue the coverage helps each enterprise house owners and staff, and that guaranteeing paid go away will foster a more healthy, extra productive workforce.
“When folks have the kind of paid time off they need, they’re able to stay home when they’re sick,” mentioned Molly Weston Williamson, who tracks paid go away coverage on the analysis and advocacy group Center for American Progress.
For enterprise house owners involved that the legislation will trigger added pressure amid tough financial circumstances, Williamson identified that Chicago and Cook County have had comparable ordinances in place since 2017, and fears of devastating financial penalties by no means panned out.
In reality, “our economy can’t afford not to provide these benefits,” Williamson mentioned. “We can’t afford to pay for folks who are losing their job. We can’t afford to pay for folks who are getting sicker because they’re not getting the care they need. We can’t afford the impacts on our health care system.”
Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, a Peoria Democrat who sponsored the laws, mentioned at Monday’s invoice signing that the legislation particularly will assist low-wage staff, who’re these much less prone to have paid day off and who’re disproportionately Black, Latino, and girls.
“Thanks to this measure, workers have the peace of mind that they can take care of themselves today without worrying about the consequences tomorrow,” Gordon-Booth mentioned.
Christell Frausto, a co-owner of TequilaRia Wine and Spirits in Peoria, mentioned she sees paid go away as “an investment” and hopes different enterprise house owners will too.
Frausto, 38, mentioned she already accommodates workers needing flexibility for emergencies, sickness or private occasions. She opened the boutique-style retailer targeted on specialty merchandise together with women-owned manufacturers and natural, gluten-free or low-calorie choices two years in the past.
The pandemic was a transparent signal that prioritizing staff is a crucial technique for enterprise house owners, mentioned Frausto, who hopes the lead-up to the legislation taking impact will give them time to price range and put together.
“They’re part of my team,” she mentioned of her workers. “My interest is to take care of them just as much as my customers. I have to make sure they have a balance in life and work.”
For Sandy and Dave Schoenborn, a pair who personal the Lincoln Theatre in Belleville, Illinois, the state mandate is a significant concern. “I’m pretty worried,” Sandy Schoeborn mentioned. “Unless business gets better, it’s gonna be a strain.”
Paid go away is one thing workers ought to earn, not be entitled to, she mentioned. “I can’t say no. If if I have a big event coming up and everybody decides to take off, I’m in a world of hurt.”
Knight, the Springfield amusement park proprietor, mentioned he does his finest to care for his workers. “If they have a reason, they can take off a day” with out pay, he mentioned.
“Car broke down, mom’s sick, gotta take the dog to the vet… they’re all important to the staff. But you can’t close your business because everybody wants to take off cause there’s a concert,” he mentioned.
The pandemic, inflation, utility costs — “it just all seems to be piling up,” and obligatory paid go away is now one other hurdle for enterprise house owners.
“It just drives the cost up, drives the prices up, and the consumer pays the bill,” Knight mentioned.
Savage is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit nationwide service program that locations journalists in native newsrooms to report on undercovered points.