Bill de Blasio signed his first piece of administration as mayor, requiring any business with five or more employees to offer workers paid sick days. Credit: Rob Bennett/NYC Mayor's Office
With a few deliberate strokes of his pen, Bill de Blasio signed his first piece of administration as mayor, requiring any business with five or more employees to offer workers paid sick days.
The mayor — who admitted to practicing his letter-by-letter script — signed the bill at the Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based Steve's Ice Cream shop, surrounded by New Yorkers who would benefit from the law and his fellow city leaders who ushered the bill through City Hall.
The bill's sponsor Manhattan Councilwoman Margaret Chin and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito were both alongside the mayor, as was former Councilwoman and current Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who first introduced the legislation almost four years ago.
A compromised version of Brewer's bill eventually passed, with provisions that limited the number of small businesses affected and a failsafe trigger to stop the law if the economy were in bad shape.
The signed law strips away those conditions originally requested by the business community, covers an additional 200,000 New Yorkers and goes into effect on April 1.
"The urgency we all felt about this legislation – it wasn’t abstract. It wasn’t something we read about in a book," de Blasio said. "It was from hearing from our fellow New Yorkers. It was seeing the difference when you knew what it was like to have paid sick leave. And those of us who have been blessed understand how fundamental it is."
Representatives from the department of Consumer Affairs, which will oversee enforcement of the law, said that the agency was committed an educational program to inform business owners and employees alike.
Consumer Affairs Deputy Commissioner Marla Tepper also explained that while the law does create statutory penalties for businesses who don't comply, the main goal of the law is to make employees whole.
"Because we recognize that there's a period of time for employers to get to know the law, and work with the department to understand it, there will be a stay of penalties for the first six months for small employers and for manufacturers," she added.
De Blasio again praised members of the business community who understood the need for paid sick leave. He pointed to David Stein, owner of Steve's Ice Cream shop.
"Some business owners didn’t wait for this law. They were ahead of the curve. They knew what their employees needed," de Blasio said before sampling some of the store's offerings.
De Blasio seemed particularly fond of a vanilla concoction with coconut cream and burnt sugar shards.
"I’m convinced," de Blasio said. "If this is what workers who get paid sick days can make, this is the best endorsement you’re going to have for the concept anywhere."
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