Washington Small Business Owners Worry About Minimum Wage Proposal

Date: February 11, 2015

Paid time off bills also introduced.

As Washington lawmakers take up proposals for a minimum wage increase and statewide paid sick leave this session, Andrew Barkis of Hometown Property Management in Olympia has some advice for them: Beware of unintended consequences.

While a higher minimum wage aims to help employees, it could actually put them out of work. Barkis says a $15 minimum wage, which some have argued for, would make it impossible for him to hire the seasonal help he usually does, at $10 to $11 an hour. “That’s a sizable increase,” he says. “I can’t just automatically increase the amount I’m billing the customer—the market sets what I can charge.”

Washington’s minimum wage is already the highest in the country at $9.47 an hour, and a House bill to raise it to $12 an hour over the next four years has been introduced this year. Seattle and SeaTac have already passed $15 minimum wage laws, and other cities could follow.

Meanwhile, bills to require most businesses to offer paid sick leave have also been introduced. The bills exempt employers with four or fewer employees, while businesses with five to 50 full-time workers would receive 40 hours of paid leave per year.

Barkis opposes those bills too. “I believe that should be up to the choice and the ability of the employer,” he says. “The costs that are put upon us directly affect the cost of doing business.”

Related Content: News | Labor | Minimum Wage | Paid Leave | Washington

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