Created: June 28, 2020 10:20 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —The Albuquerque City Council is set to address a proposal Monday that would require businesses pay their employees hazard pay under COVID-19 conditions.
Gabrielle Wheeler, owner of East Gate Kids, said she has some concerns about what would happen if the city’s mandate passes.
"Child care is notoriously a high turnover industry and a very low paying wage,” she said.
"I mean, I do believe that people deserve extra, I just don't know here the extra is going to come from,” she added.
Wheeler said before the pandemic hit, they had close to 50 people teaching and taking care of the kids at East Gate. Now, COVID-19 safety guidelines are driving expenses up, but income has gone down. Wheeler said they’ve already had to raise prices for families.
She said if she has to pay hazard pay it will force her to raise prices again and cut back on hours of operation.
"My desire is to keep people employed and paid,” Wheeler said.
The original city council proposal would grant hazard pay to employees making $15 per hour or less. An amendment added to the Monday night agenda would lower that wage to $12 an hour.
Still, Wheeler said now is not the time to put more pressure on struggling businesses.
"Knowing that some centers have closed, if you're going to stay open, a lot of worry and concern about our employees, but not only that, but concern about keeping child care affordable for families,” she said.
Last week, Mayor Keller said he supports the idea of mandatory hazard and mandatory sick leave, but he was non-committal. Keller said there’s too many variables and has to wait and see what happens at the city council meeting.
Some city councilors in favor of the changes said a vote on the proposal may be pushed back to August.
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