Small business owners will be affected by the new minimum wage

IMAGE BY ALEXX ELDER

Initiative 1433 passed on Nov. 8, 2016, and from January 2017 onwards, the minimum wage will increase in gradual increments until 2020, when it will be $13.50 per hour. Additionally, beginning in January of 2018, employers will be required to provide paid sick leave to employees covered by the Minimum Wage Act.

I-1433 will follow the footsteps of last year’s initiatives. Seattle’s Minimum Wage Ordinance was approved last year and will gradually increase the minimum wage until 2022, when the wage will cap at $15 an hour. The ordinance was put into effect Apr. 1, 2015, and raised the minimum hourly wage from $9.47 to $11 an hour.

Tacoma approved Initiative No. 1B to raise minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2018 through three phases. Tacoma’s minimum hourly wage started at $10.35 on Feb. 1, 2016 and will increase annually to $11.15 in 2017 and $12 in 2018.

According to the Seattle Times, some business owners were opposed to the initiative because, while Seattle’s economy is booming, the rest of the state is not. Opponents do not agree with the new minimum wage because of the high costs and new adjustments needed to fulfill the new pay rates for employees.

Lisa Watson, an early educator at Seattle daycare Ages in Stages, regards the initiative optimistically. “I think it will be a positive effect. I think any raise is a great step in the right direction. I think it’ll be really good, it will benefit people like me that have kids. We live paycheck by paycheck basically.”

But Ages in Stages business owner Stacie Blair discussed how the new minimum wage has already affected her business. Blair has had to subsidize parents who have lost childcare due to the raises. She also said “I feel the sick pay encourages staff to take time off even if they do not need it because they will lose it if they do not use it.  We are in the field where staff get sick often so having paid time off and trying to meet ratios does not work for my business at all.”

When asked about Initiative No. 1B and its effects on her business, Hello Cupcake owner Allix Zemcik said “I also don’t give as many raises as I did before, since I increased everyone’s pay as a result of the initiative. The increased cost of labor has definitely had an effect, but we are still doing well!”

Both Blair and Zemcik have had to adjust to the annual raise increases. Blair is preparing for this upcoming 2017 raise by increasing the tuition for parents by a percentage in order to cover all employees’ new pay.

IMAGE BY ALEXX ELDER

IMAGE BY ALEXX ELDER

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