Small businesses will soon be mandated to provide an allotted number of sick days, after a compromise on the much-debated legislation was struck last night.
Union leaders, advocates and city lawmakers came to a deal on the Paid Sick Leave bill, which has been opposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a mayoral candidate, for the last three years. Quinn, however, would ultimately go on to broker the deal on the bill.
It will go to the City Council, where it’s expected to pass with enough support to override a Bloomberg veto.
When the full bill kicks in a year from now, businesses with at least 20 employees will have to give workers at least five paid sick days. Companies with at least 15 or more employees must provide paid sick leave beginning October 2015.
All businesses, Quinn said when officially announcing the deal, will be required to provide unpaid sick leave beginning April 2014.
The combined paid and unpaid days would benefit more than a million New Yorkers, just under a million of which would be covered by paid sick leave, according to Quinn.
Although publically opposing the parameters of the plan for years, Quinn said she always supported the goals of the bill and striking an agreement was a matter of how and when.
But, should the economy take another downturn, the bill, expected to pass the council in late April, would be delayed until the city and small businesses can sustain it.
The effects on small business have been a concern since Manhattan Councilmember Gale A. Brewer started pushing for the bill three years ago.
This deal, Quinn said, found the balance on benefiting workers without hurting their employers.
“It’s been my goal to make sure that when we provide this important benefit to millions of people who need access to paid sick leave,” she said. “We did it without creating an administrative burden on those businesses that currently offer the benefit when they can least afford it.”
Advocacy groups and unions have reacted positively to the announcement. They have particularly applauded Brewer’s work and that workers don’t have to fear being fired to take a day off to rest, or care for another.
“No longer will a parent have to make the impossible choice whether to stay home to care for a sick child or go to work to feed their family,” said Javier Valdez, co-executive director of Make the Road New York.
32BJ SEIU President Hector Figueroa said the bill would set the bar nationwide for providing paid sick leave to workers.
“We are telling not only New York, but the nation, that the time is right. The time is right to take care of one another. The time is right to make it easy for working people to provide for their families. And the time is right to be able to reconcile the interests of business with the interests of the majority of the working population.”
The Queens business community also appreciates that the deal finds a balance between helping workers and not affecting merchants, said Jack Friedman, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce.
“We applaud her [Quinn’s] efforts and the efforts of Councilmember Gale Brewer,” Friedman said. “We appreciate the fact that she listened to us throughout the process and we’re 100-percent behind her decision.”