The City Council overrode Mayor Michael Bloomberg's veto of the paid sick leave bill early Thursday morning, passing the law that affects more than 1 million workers in the city.
Companies with 20 or more employees will be required to offer five paid sick days beginning April 1, 2014. It will expand to include companies with 15 or more workers on Oct. 1, 2015. Businesses with fewer that 15 employees will have to provide unpaid sick days.
All businesses are prohibited from firing employees for taking time off when they are sick.
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Other cities, such as San Francisco and Seattle, already have legislation in place requiring employers to provide paid sick days. New York City becomes the largest metropolitan area to require sick paid leave.
Advocates say workers should be able to take time off when they are sick without fear of losing pay or their job, while critics of the law say that many businesses cannot afford to offer paid time off, and that employers and workers should be left to make those arrangements on their own.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn had blocked a vote on the bill for three years, saying the city's economy was too fragile. She drew criticism from her colleagues, activists and political opponents. Under pressure, she brought the bill to the floor for a vote in May and Bloomberg vetoed it.
Businesses will now be forced to cut costs in other ways, which will hurt employees, the mayor has argued.
Requirements of the new law could change if the city's economy weakens.