Deal reached on paid sick leave bill

Council Speaker Christine Quinn announces the legislation Friday at City Hall. Credit: William Alatriste
Council Speaker Christine Quinn announces the legislation Friday at City Hall. Credit: William Alatriste

Thousands of companies in New York City will soon be required to give their employees paid sick leave.

Under a deal announced by Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s office Thursday evening, companies with 20 or more employees will be required to offer five paid sick days beginning April 1, 2014. On Oct. 1, 2015, it will expand to include companies with 15 or more workers. 

“We have a good, strong and sensible piece of legislation that recognizes the needs of everyday New Yorkers and the realities that our struggling small businesses face,” Quinn said in a statement.

She said the 2014 start date gives businesses extra time to recover before absorbing the extra costs.

The bill also ensures the requirement will only go into effect if the economy continues to improve, according to Quinn’s office.

Enforcement will be complaint driven, according to the speaker’s office, and handled by the Department of Consumer Affairs. The maximum fine will be $2,500.

Quinn had blocked a vote on the paid sick leave bill for three years, arguing that it would hurt the city’s economy. She drew criticism from her fellow mayoral contenders, her colleagues in the City Council and activists, including feminist Gloria Steinem.

Under the bill, companies that have fewer than 15 employees will be forced to offer unpaid days off to sick workers. Companies will be legally forbidden from firing employees for taking sick time off, paid or unpaid.

Advocates had originally wanted a bill that would apply to companies with five or more employees. Despite the compromises made, the deal is a victory for labor unions and liberal activists who have long rallied for it. They say the legislation will affect one million workers who until now could not take time off out of fear that they would lose pay or their job.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg vowed Friday he will veto the bill.

“It is crucial that we continue doing everything we can to allow businesses to grow,” he said. “While this compromise version of the bill is better than previous iterations, it will still hurt small businesses and stifle job creation.”

There is expected to be enough votes in the City Council to override the veto.


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