CHICAGO (WLS) — A vote on a measure to give Chicago workers more paid leave is on hold for now as the city’s business community argues the plan would be bad for their bottom lines post-pandemic.
Workers rights groups say the pandemic made it clear how important it is for employees to have ample paid time off. They say it protects families caring for each other and keeps workers protected so they don’t lose income during a family’s health crisis.
Several representatives urged city council members of the Committee on Workforce Development to pass a proposal that would double the current amount of paid leave from five days to 10.
“As a working mother for me and many others it is difficult to ask for a day off from the employer because there is no law mandating it,” said nanny Isabel Santos through a translator.
A number of Chicago employers, however, said the proposed ordinance could cause severe hardship and could force some small businesses to close.
“We must find a balanced approach to paid leave, one that supports our workers while also recognizing the unique and vital role that businesses play in our communities,” said Chauncey Rice of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.
The group of employers and business owners said the proposal would tie their hands, making it difficult for them to create or add new jobs. Aldermen are split on the proposal.
“The proposal you will hear today will certainly cost jobs,” said 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins. “It will cause some businesses hanging on by the thinnest of threads to finally give up and say they can’t do it anymore.”
Labor leaders, however, said they think the current proposal is a fair compromise.
“I want something that is reasonable. What we have on the table right now is reasonable,” said Robert Reiter of the Chicago Federation of Labor.
A number of aldermen said they need more time to study this proposal. They plan to be back on Thursday and are expected to vote at that time.