DENVER (CBS4)- Supporters of a paid sick day initiative in Denver claim momentum is on their side after Seattle became the latest city to require businesses provide paid sick leave.

Opponents argue small businesses can’t afford to give every employee paid sick leave. Supporters claim if other cities can do it, so can Denver.

“I am concerned about this in terms people having the safety to take care of their own health,” said paid sick day initiative supporter Dr. Irene Aguilar.

Those in the healthcare industry are divided: the Public Health Association supports the initiative and the Hospital Association is in opposition.

Supporters claim nearly half of businesses in Denver don’t provide any sick leave.

“I got pneumonia and sent in a doctor’s note and I lost my job,” said paid sick leave supporter Patricia Hughes.

Denver’s initiative is very rigorous, requiring that businesses with just one employee provide at least five paid sick days and those with ten or more employees required to provide nine days.

“The things that are in here are much more anti-employer than ordinances passed anywhere in the country,” said Colorado Restaurant Association spokesman Pete Meersman.

Meersman said small businesses don’t have large pools of workers to cover absent employees and can’t afford to pay two people for the same job. He argues the initiative will be unhealthy in the long run for Denver’s economy.

“I’ve talked to people who’ve said if this passes in Denver they will not open up another restaurant in Denver,” said Meersman.

In addition to Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, DC and Milwaukee have recently passed paid sick day laws, as well as the state of Connecticut.


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