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Published On: Sun, Jun 30th, 2013

New York City passes law mandating sick time pay, Michael Bloomberg says it will be bad for businesses

A new law in New York City will now force employers to offer some sick time pay for their workers.

NYC joinsPortland, Ore.; San Francisco; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; and the state of Connecticut in requiring the benefit for at least some workers. Similar measures have failed in some other places, including Milwaukee, Denver and Philadelphia.

photo http://www.fmlainsights.com/

photo http://www.fmlainsights.com/

Advocates say workers shouldn’t have to choose between their physical and financial health. And customers and colleagues shouldn’t have to be exposed to employees who come to work sick, supporters add.

Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the bill, the City Council voted 47-4 to override the mayor’s veto and pass the bill into law on June 27, 2013. Sherry Leiwant, A Better Balance’s Co-President and Co-Founder, was of the key negotiators who reached a compromise with the City Council Speaker on the legislation.

“Faced with this increase in costs, employers will seek to offset them in any number of ways, including reducing other benefits employees receive … reducing the number of hours employees work and laying them off altogether,” Bloomberg wrote in his veto. “Employers may also become less willing to hire new employees, as this bill would make hiring them more expensive.”

The Earned Sick Time Act will ensure that New Yorkers cannot be fired for taking a day off when they or certain family members are sick and will ultimately require all employers with 15 or more employees to provide up to 5 paid sick days per year.

The law will go into effect on April 1, 2014.

Key provisions of the law include:

  • Beginning April 1, 2014, private sector workers in businesses with 20 or more employees will be able to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time a year. Private sector workers in smaller businesses will receive job protection for up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time a year.
  • Beginning October 1, 2015, the business size threshold for paid sick time will be lowered, and workers in businesses with 15 or more employees will earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time a year.
  • Workers in smaller businesses will still receive job protection for 40 hours of unpaid sick time.
  • Workers will earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.
  • Business size will be determined by counting all workers in a business. In certain chain businesses and franchises, all workers in the chain or franchise will be counted together in determining if the business meets the size threshold for paid sick time.
  • Paid or unpaid sick time can be used to care for a worker’s own health needs or to care for the health needs of a worker’s spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, or the child or parent of a worker’s spouse or domestic partner.
  • Workers will begin earning sick time as soon as they are hired but will have to work for 120 days before they are able to use the time.
  • Part-time workers will be covered by the bill and earn paid sick time based on hours worked.
  • Domestic workers will receive some paid sick time even if they work for a single employer.
  • Any type of paid leave—paid time off, vacation, personal days, etc.—will count for purposes of complying with the law as long as it can be used for sick leave purposes.
  • Workers will be protected against retaliation. The law will be enforced by the Department of Consumer Affairs, which will have the power to take complaints and assess fines and damages for violations of the law. Complaints must be filed with the agency within 270 days.
  • The effective date of the law is conditional on economic indicators based on a financial index maintained by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • The bill will not cover independent contractors, work-study students, government employees, and certain hourly occupational, speech, and physical therapists.
  • Certain workers in the manufacturing sector are excluded from the paid sick time requirement, but they will receive job protection for up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time.
  • Collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) in the construction and grocery trades may opt covered workers out of this law, and other CBAs may opt out if the CBA provides comparable benefits.

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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