NYC Council Reaches Deal on Paid Sick Leave

The City Council will consider a measure requiring companies with 15 or more employees in New York City to provide paid sick leave for workers, Speaker Christine Quinn announced. 

Under the plan, workers will be able to take five paid days off when they are sick. The measure would affect one million New Yorkers who currently aren't covered by such benefits. 

City councils in Portland, Ore., and Philadelphia approved paid sick leave proposals this month. San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and the state of Connecticut already have such laws. 

Quinn, a Democrat running for mayor who has long declined to bring the matter to a vote, detailed the agreement Thursday night.

"Throughout these negotiations I have always said that I was willing to listen and engage all sides," said Quinn in a statement. "Because of deliberate, thoughtful, and at times hard-nosed negotiations, we now have a piece of legislation that balances the interests of workers, small business owners, and local mom-and-pop proprietors across this City."

In the past, Quinn has argued that while the goals of a paid sick leave bill are laudable, the measure would hurt struggling employers.

But the bill proposed Thursday would require businesses with 20 or more employees to provide five paid sick days to their workers beginning April 1, 2014 and to businesses with 15 or more employees by October 1, 2015.

Employees must have worked for at least four months before being able to take sick leave, including part-time workers. Seasonal workers and work-study students are not eligible under the plan. 

Firms with fewer than 15 employees must offer five days of unpaid sick leave. Whether the sick leave is paid or unpaid, businesses will be legally barred from firing workers for taking those allotted sick days.

The City Council will need to vote on the bill; a majority of members have indicated their support for paid sick leave legislation. Mayor Bloomberg called the plan "short-sighted economic policy that will take our city in the wrong direction," and pledged to veto the measure.

The council should have enough votes to override the veto. 

"I think it's about time we caught up to the rest of the working world. It's basic, common decency, and it's also in everyone's best interest," said Stefano Marracino, co-owner of Paola's restaurant on the Upper East Side. The business already offers paid sick leave to its 40 employees, Marracino said.

A previous version of the bill would have required businesses with 20 or more employees give their workers each nine paid sick days a year.

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