NEW YORK—Proponents of paid sick leave showered City Council Speaker Christine with warm applause on Friday on the steps of City Hall. It was the first time they had shown approval for the speaker who had blocked the paid sick leave bill for nearly three years, citing economic conditions.
“I have always said I supported the goal of paid sick leave,” Quinn said. “The question for me was never a question of if, only a question of when and how.”
The compromised bill, which will affect nearly one million workers, addresses Quinn’s economic concerns by delaying the start of the bill by one year and adding a reverse trigger—which means the bill could be shelved, depending on economic conditions. The bill addresses business concerns by increasing the number of employees a company has before they are required to provide pay sick leave.
“We believe it [new bill] will not have adverse affects on small business and will not cost jobs,” Quinn said.
The bill, which has not yet been written, according to lead sponsor Council member Gale Brewer, addressed many of the concerns brought up at a lengthy City Council hearing a week ago.
The number of employees at a business in which the law will affect was raised from five to 15 in the latest version, although there was no mention of what percentage had to be part time or full time.
All New Yorkers will be protected from being fired from taking a day off.
Companies already offering paid time off will not be forced to provide additional time off to comply with this bill.
The manufacturing sector will be exempt, “due to the particular challenges in that sector,” according to Quinn. Brewer said Connecticut exempt manufacturing and New York needs to remain competitive with the neighboring state.
The new law will give businesses breathing room to implement the plan. Businesses with 20 or more employees will wait until April 1, 2014. Businesses with 15 or more employees will wait until October 1, 2015.
A reverse trigger will be written into the bill, something Quinn said she had always wanted. The Federal Bank of New York Coincident Index will be used to determine the economic pulse of the city. If the numbers from the index dip below the January 2012 level, the bill will be shelved.
The index includes measures of employment, wages, and hours worked. Quinn said she liked having a broader algorithm to assess the state of the economy instead of just employment numbers.
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), not the Department of Health (DOH) as in the original bill, will be in charge of paid sick leave. Quinn said many small businesses already had trouble working with the DOH and the DCA seemed like a better option.
Quinn said the council will have to work with the DCA with the implementation of the new rules. She said companies who already provide sick leave may have to prove it to the city to avoid fines.
Brewer said it is a complaint-based system: “No one will come around and check.”
She said employees have nine months to make a complaint, which will be investigated by the DCA.
Fines will be set at $500 for the first offense, according to Brewer.
The City Council will officially vote on the bill in April.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement saying he will veto it. “While this compromised version of the bill is better than previous iterations, it will still hurt small businesses and stifle job creation,” he said. “The bill is short-sighted economic policy that will take our city in the wrong direction.”
Quinn, with the support of 39 sponsors on the bill, said she will override the veto.