WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TEXAS (KXAN) — Local businesses across Central Texas have already taken a big financial hit. Coronavirus has forced many to rethink their strategies — especially when it comes to sick time.
KXAN’s Kaitlyn Karmout reports: small businesses and hourly employees are worried about what happens next.
“The amount of trips that we take have fallen drastically,” said Uber Driver, Cynthia Gentilini. “There’s just no work to be had out there”
Cynthia Gentilini has already seen the widespread effects of the Coronavirus. Now, she’s faced with the uncertainty behind getting it.
“They said they’ll give us two weeks pay,” said Gentilini.
Uber has stepped up to say that to its independent employees who rely heavily on its paychecks.
What that will look like to Gentilini is unclear.
“We’re disposable. I’m not the only one. This is not the only field that’s like that,” said Gentilini. “Anyone that works in the gig economy, that’s has no healthcare. We depend on this.”
Hundreds of hourly employees are out there; relying solely on their next paycheck .
“Two weeks without a paycheck, a month, would be pretty detrimental to me. I’m already in debt,” said Matthew Birkinbine.
This pitfall is an active conversation circulating around Round Rock’s Chamber of Commerce.
“Companies are looking at how they can expand or create more flexibility around sick time or vacation time,” said Jason Ball, Round Rock Chamber of Commerce President. “We’re continually very concerned about what this means for small business”
Ball says Austin has over 2,000 local small businesses. Some have as few as five employees.
A few employees calling in sick could make it difficult to operate — and hit their yearly accounts hard.
KXAN’s Kaitlyn Karmout reached out to Williamson County, City leaders in Georgetown and in Round Rock to see if they are working on anything to help support small business owners or hourly employees. All of them said that’s up to the private sector for the time being.
“There’s going to be some innovation and unfortunately some shared pain for a while until we see the coronavirus calm down,” said Ball.
Williamson County explained to KXAN its sick pay policy for hourly employees who work for the county: if a non-salary employee decides or is requested to self-quarantine at home, they can use any sick leave or other leave that they have available.
Williamson County says it also allows employees to participate in a voluntary sick pool, where they can request sick leave hours if they run out.