Bloomberg Vetoes Sick Leave Law; Override Expected

The measure, passed last month, would provide an estimated 1 million workers with up to five paid sick days annually

Mayor Michael Bloomberg nixed a requirement for many city businesses to provide paid sick leave, but the City Council was expected to override Friday's veto and make New York the most populous place in the United States with such a law.

The measure, passed last month, would provide an estimated 1 million workers with up to five paid sick days annually. Hundreds of thousands of others would get unpaid sick time, meaning they couldn't be fired for staying home ill.

The veto was expected. In carrying it out Friday, Bloomberg said the motivation was laudable, but the law would burden businesses and saddle city regulators with checking out a new realm of complaints.

"The bill, which will impose significant new costs on employers and create a vast new bureaucracy, is bad for the city's economy, and it will harm the very people it seeks to help," his veto message said. Employers would cut other benefits to afford sick time, and some might be discouraged from making new hires, Bloomberg argued.

Advocates, however, say workers shouldn't have to choose between their health and their paycheck. Supporters also argue that paid sick leave can help stop the spread of the flu and other diseases from ailing employees to their co-workers or customers.

"It is a mistake to oppose these basic protections for working people," the measure's sponsor, City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, said in a statement. Lawmakers have said they have the votes for an override; a date hasn't yet been set for a vote.

Businesses with 20 or more workers would have to provide as many as five paid sick days a year beginning in April 2014; enterprises with 15 to 19 workers would have to follow suit by October 2015. All others would have to provide up to five unpaid sick days per year.

While New York's measure isn't the first, it has gotten significant attention because of the city's size, and it counts such prominent backers as feminist Gloria Steinem and "Sex and the City" actress Cynthia Nixon.

Paid sick time requirements are in place in Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; and the state of Connecticut.

The Wisconsin Legislature blocked a voter-approved Milwaukee paid sick time requirement, and Denver voters rejected one. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter vetoed one this year, and an override attempt failed.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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