On Friday, I reported on Cherry Street Coffee's "sick-leave surcharge" signs, which owner Ali Ghambari had posted at all the local coffee chain's locations to announce a new 1.5 percent surcharge per order in response to Seattle's new mandated paid-sick-leave law.
Yesterday, KOMO News put out a story about the signs, quoting Ghambari as saying of the paid-sick-leave law, "It's a fantastic policy." Wow, really? Fantastic? Because when I talked to him on Friday, he didn't seem too thrilled about it; nor did he seem to understand it all that well.
About those signs:
[Ghambari] says so many people were reading the wrong message between the lines—and blogging negatively about it—that he pulled all the signs after three days… There is now an empty space by Cherry Street's cash registers where the signs used to be.
UPDATE: Just to be clear, he hasn't stopped charging an extra fee to cover what he thinks offering sick leave will cost him, he's just taken down the signs announcing it.
Ghambari told me on Friday, "This is mandatory dollars that you have to put out for [employees]… My employees know hey, you're gonna get 40 hours time off for sick leave; even if you are not sick, you'll get that paid to you anyway… I don't want my employees calling in sick when they're not sick to get a day off." Under Seattle's law, employees actually must be sick, caring for a sick family member, or doing preventative care to take sick days. See a summary here.
I also got an e-mail from Alex Stone this weekend. Stone works for the Economic Opportunity Institute, which helped draft Seattle's sick-leave policy, and he points out a further misunderstanding on Ghambari's part—when he implied that he could be required to offer an employee 80 hours of paid sick time in a year, since he thought 40 hours of rollover would combine with 40 hours of annually accrued sick time. "He clearly didn't read the employer FAQs or speak with anyone at the Seattle Office for Civil Rights," says Stone, who explains: "Someone can accrue up to 40 hours per year working at Cherry Street, and if they don't use any of their leave they can carry it over to the next year. HOWEVER, they won't then accrue more (like he says, 80 hours). They're capped at 40, unless their employer allows them more."