Tag Archives: Paid Sick Time Act

City Council passes paid sick leave bill


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Twitter/@ChrisCQuinn

City legislators voted today to rectify the New York’s policy on paid sick leave, and now have enough support to override a veto from the mayor’s office.

Councilmembers voted 45-3 on the bill that would require businesses with 20 or more employees to give at least five paid sick days per worker beginning next April. Starting in October 2015, businesses with 15 or more workers will have to do the same.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a mayoral candidate, helped broker the deal in its current incarnation, after opposing the parameters originally put forth.

However, Manhattan Councilmember Gale A. Brewer, who’s pushed for paid sick leave since 2010, received most of the credit during the bill’s roll call vote.

“I want to congratulate Councilmember Gale Brewer and the paid sick leave coalition,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie. Opposed to the original standards the bill put forth, Comrie said this was a compromise that may not be ideal “but a major step forward.”

The bill also guarantees unpaid sick days to all New York workers, despite the size of their company or business.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has repeatedly promised to veto the bill when it comes across his desk, saying it will kill small businesses across the city.

Private sector jobs were up to one of the highest numbers in the city’s history, the mayor announced during his budget address last week. In response to the bill passing, however, Bloomberg alleged the bill would back track economic development.

The bill could cost employers other employees or other benefits as they’ll have to allocate more money toward the paid sick days.

Quinn, announcing the agreement between councilmembers and labor leaders in March, said the current bill is more of a balance for workers and proprietors. The bill will also be put on hold if the city’s economy takes a downturn in the time in between.

 

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Quinn: City Council reaches deal on required paid sick leave


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Twitter/@ChrisCQuinn

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.”

 

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Elmhurst worker fired for single sick day


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alex DiBlasi

For four months, Emilio Palaguachi, 43, worked 60-hour weeks behind the counter at Superior Deli on the Lower East Side. One day, he felt ill, and with the permission of his manager, missed a day of work to visit a doctor. But when he returned to work the next day, he was handed one day’s pay and fired.

“They didn’t give me any explanation,” said Palaguachi to a translator. “I asked if I had done something wrong and nobody knew what to say. Actually, everyone [co-workers] was upset because of how I was fired.”

As New York battles through one of the worst flu seasons in recent history, the divisive issue of sick leave hits hard with many workers struggling between recuperating from illness and retaining their jobs. More than a million New York City workers lack paid sick days, most operating in the food service, retail and health care industries, according to the NYC Paid Sick Days Campaign.

In August of 2009, the Paid Sick Time Act was first introduced to the New York City Council garnering support from members of the council, residents and civil rights groups. In 2012, the bill was revisited and rewritten to require businesses with more than 20 employees to allot nine paid sick days; companies with five to 20 workers to grant five days; and small businesses with fewer than five employees designate five unpaid, but job-protected, sick days each year. The bill has yet to be voted on by the council.

Julissa Bisono of Make the Road New York, a Jackson Heights based social justice organization, said opposition to the bill comes from small businesses, fearful that paid sick days may lead to bankruptcy.

“This bill will not only give people paid sick days but protect their jobs so they don’t come in the next day and find out that they don’t have a job because they took the day off to recover,” said Bisono.

Although the bill has 37 co-sponsors, City Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn remains opposed, citing the city’s current economic status.

“This issue of paid sick leave, it’s a laudable goal,” Quinn said. “But in this economy if we do it right now in the way envisioned in the bill we’re going to put people out of business and we are going to lose jobs. This is not the right time to do it.”

Postponed by Superstorm Sandy, a second hearing on the bill has yet to be set by Quinn.

Palaguachi, who supports his wife and four young children, is concerned about finding another job and providing for his family. While his search has not yet been successful, Palaguachi said he hopes his next position will include benefits, sick days and days off for Christmas and Thanksgiving.

“Workers like me should be able to go to the doctor if we feel bad, and not show up to work if we are feeling ill, especially if we handle food and see customers,” said Palaguachi. “A lot of people can’t afford to take a day off. A lot of people don’t take off because they don’t want to lose their job. If someone is sick, this law will help prevent people from getting sick. You can go to the doctor and you’re not worried about losing your job.”

 

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