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Know Your Rights
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Advocates push City Council to vote on sick day leave

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The pressure is mounting on the City Council to vote on a measure that require businesses to offer paid sick days to employees:

Monday at noon at least two dozen wage earners, clergy members and labor advocates [including Make the Road New York] are expected to gather on the steps of City Hall to hold a prayer vigil for a Brooklyn man who they say died because he couldn’t take sick days from his job at a grocery store to seek treatment.

Both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn have come out strongly against any city law that would obligate firms to pay sick days, saying it would deal a blow to small business.

Ms. Quinn, a mayoral hopeful, has said the economy needs to become stronger before the city should put such restraints on businesses. She has refused to bring a sick pay bill to the floor for a vote.

The current proposal languishing in the Council would require firms with 5 to 19 employees to provide workers five paid sick days a year, which could also be used to care for sick family members. Businesses with 20 or more employees would have to provide nine days a year of any type of paid leave.

The legislation would not cover independent contractors, interns or most union workers. There would be a one-year grace period for new businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

Other municipalities such as San Francisco and Washington DC already have similar laws on the books.

Councilmen James Oddo (R-Mid Island/Brooklyn) and Vincent Ignizio (R-South Shore) in 2010 opposed a similar sick pay bill which failed to pass the City Council, saying the measure would have dealt another blow to the city’s floundering economy.

Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-North Shore) has been an advocate of paid sick leave.

Linda Baran, the president of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, in a column she wrote earlier this month in Crain’s New York, expressed some misgivings about the bill.

I’ve heard from many small business owners who are extremely concerned about this legislation. And they are right to be concerned.

I’ve heard from many small business owners who are extremely concerned about this legislation. And they are right to be concerned,” she wrote, in part, noting the law would be a disincentive to small companies looking to hire more employees, because it would then require them to offer more sick days. “…the entire cost of this legislation will be borne by the employer.”

For the orginal article, click here.