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Campaign Updates

| Ensuring Paid Sick Time for All Workers, Improving Job Quality

Sick Leave in New York

The New York Times, October 14, 2012 - The arrival of flu season is a reminder that New York City has no law requiring employers to provide paid sick leave and that the City Council should pass one. Connecticut requires paid sick leave from most companies with more than 50 employees. Seattle, San Francisco and Washington all require employers to provide sick leave, and workers in New York deserve the same benefit.

The two main obstacles to a sick leave bill are Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Speaker Christine Quinn. Both argue that such a change should not be required during bad economic times, even though there is little evidence that sick-leave requirements have hurt job markets elsewhere. Most business advocates are strongly opposed. Their voices are being heard over those of the 1.2 million workers who would benefit.

A bill offered by Councilwoman Gale Brewer would provide five sick days for employees of companies with 5 to 19 workers and nine sick days for bigger companies. Ms. Quinn has not brought this to a vote. A compromise proposal from Councilman Daniel Garodnick requires all companies with more than five employees to offer five paid sick leave days or flexible vacation days a year. His bill would also allow restaurant workers to “swap” shifts or take sick days, and excludes seasonal workers who are employed for less than 120 days.

The mayor might veto whatever bill emerges, but with so many council members in favor of sick leave, he would probably be overridden. It is Ms. Quinn who is standing in the way. As leader of a Council that clearly wants this change, it is her duty to allow a vote or help come up with a reasonable compromise. The best answer, of course, would be a Congressional law requiring sick leave benefits for the whole country. But the city cannot wait for a national policy that could be a long time coming.