Those who have been following the proposed legislation for Paid Sick Leave in the New York City Council probably know by now that a deal was struck between Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the bill's lead sponsor, Council-member Gail Brewer. Details of the deal are outlined below in a press release from Speaker Quinn to the Press. The bill achieves its stated purpose of mandating sick leave for workers without forcing the devastating fines and audits opposed by the business community.
What you probably have not heard is the important role played in this negotiation by our own Council-member James Vacca. Although signed on as a proponent of the bill, Jimmy was deeply concerned about the effect that enormous fines, audits and other anti-business verbiage in the law would have had on small businesses. It was his influence in yesterday's negotiations that removed the role of oversight by the Department of Health and limited the fines and ability to sue employers under the new version.
We all owe Jimmy a round of applause for his strong leadership and representation of both workers and businesses. Better yet, call his office at 718-931-1721 to thank him personally. Once again, he has transcended the politics of single interests to do what is best for all New Yorkers. Thanks, Jimmy!
SEE SPEAKER QUINN'S COMMENTS BELOW:
Sent from Quinn’s office to reporters:
The new legislation will require businesses with 20 or more employees to provide 5 paid sick days to their employees beginning April 1st 2014.
This will extend to businesses with 15 or more employees on October 1st 2015.
Employees must have worked for at least 4 months before being able to take sick leave, and part time will be included; Seasonal workers and work study students are excluded.
In addition, the bill will require that all businesses of any size provide unpaid sick leave to their employees beginning April 1st 2014.
Firms that already meet the minimum requirements of the bill will not have any additional requirements imposed upon them.
The Department of Consumer Affairs will enforce the bill. Complaints must be filed to the enforcement agency.
The Negotiated Agreement Will:
· Guarantee that all New Yorkers can take time to care for themselves and their families when ill, without fear or threat of losing employment.
· Offer paid sick leave to as many people as possible while protecting small businesses, and at the same time will not adversely affect New York City’s economy.
· Achieve an incredibly important policy change in the right way, at the right time, with the right protections for New York’s hardworking residents and small business owners.
New York City Workers Will Receive Unprecedented Protections:
· No New Yorker will face a threat of losing their livelihood for taking a day off work because they are sick.
· The bill guarantees that all New Yorkers can take time to care for themselves and their families when ill, without fear or threat of losing employment.
· Any businesses not required to provide paid sick leave will still be required to provide unpaid sick leave for their employees.
The Negotiated Legislation is Economically Sound:
· The legislation takes a responsible approach and fully recognizes the importance of maintaining New York City’s economy, especially in the wake of significant fiscal downturn and recovery.
· The mandate includes a trigger so that the provisions only go into effect if the economy continues its recovery, using the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Coincident index, which is a measure of New York City’s economic strength. With this provision, if the economy unexpectedly worsens, this bill will be delayed from taking effect until conditions improve.
· By setting the start date one year in the future it gives the economy further time to recover before businesses must absorb these new costs.
A Small Business-Friendly Approach to Important Policy:
· By phasing in over several years to firms of 15 – 20 employees, it gives those more vulnerable firms more time to recover from the recession and plan successfully for this adjustment.
· Recognizing that smaller businesses are the most fragile, the bill exempts the smallest businesses from the paid sick time costs of the bill.
· The bill was changed from one with aggressive enforcement to one with a legitimate complaint-driven policy.
· Preventing a system that could allow for excessive and unsubstantiated lawsuits against business owners, the new bill requires that complaints be filed directly to the enforcement agency.
· Onerous enforcement provisions such as audits, fines for incomplete record keeping and a determination a businesses had bad moral character were removed.
· Fines were reduced by half – from $1,000 to $5,000 to $500 to $2,500.
Reaction to Negotiated Paid Sick Leave Legislation
“Today, we have an agreement in principle on a bill that will provide New Yorkers with access to paid sick days and, at the same time, exempt small businesses that are least able to provide this benefit. We have a good, strong, and sensible piece of legislation that recognizes the needs of every day New Yorkers and the realities that our struggling small businesses face.
Throughout these negotiations I have always said that I was willing to listen and engage all sides. 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.
I want to extend deep appreciation to my council colleagues, Council Member Gale Brewer, The Paid Sick Days Coalition and especially Hector Figueroa of SEIU 32BJ for coming together on this important bill. “
- City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn
“After 3 years of non-stop advocacy and coalition building, I am pleased and grateful that we have reached a deal with Speaker Christine C. Quinn on my paid sick leave bill, Intro 97-A. I am honored to be member of the City Council that addressed this issue, and I thank all of my Council colleagues who supported the legislation. One million New Yorkers will now have the fundamental right to take a paid day off when they or a family member is ill, and no worker will be fired if they must stay home. I want to thank the Speaker for working with me and all of the advocates and members of the coalition on this groundbreaking legislation. It is a tremendous accomplishment of which all fair-minded New Yorkers can be proud.”
- Council Member Gale Brewer
"After four long years of fighting for paid sick days for New York, A Better Balance is proud to have helped insure that no worker needs to risk his job or economic security when they or their child is sick."
- Sherry Leiwant, Co-President, A Better Balance
"We congratulate the advocates, the coalition and Councilmember Brewer for their hard work to get paid sick days for New Yorkers over the last three years and applaud Speaker Quinn for negotiating a bill that will give more than a million workers paid sick days and provide hundreds of thousands more with an assurance that they won't have to choose between taking their child to a doctor and losing their job."
- Hector Figueroa, President, SEIU 32BJ
“We thank Speaker Quinn for listening to the concerns of the business community with regards to a municipal paid sick leave mandate. While we have not seen final legislation, the framework that Speaker Quinn is proposing appears to be a substantial improvement over previous versions of the legislation.”
- Kathy Wylde, President and CEO, the Partnership for New York City
"We strongly believe that any paid sick leave mandate should be taken up at the state or federal level instead of the City Council. However, we are very thankful that Speaker Quinn recognized that the Brewer bill was overly punitive and costly for the small business community. This new bill has addressed several of our specific concerns and has improved guidelines with more reasonable enforcement provisions. This bill is notably better for smaller businesses and we thank the speaker for her continued efforts to fight for jobs for New Yorkers."
- Nancy Ploeger, President, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
“The changes made by the Speaker are a sensible set of improvements. Although our members provide benefits such as paid sick leave, we have always been concerned about the impact of the original proposal on the City's small business community. We are pleased the Speaker has been able to create a more workable program.”
- James Whelan, Senior Vice President, Real Estate Board of New York
"We are delighted to stand with Speaker Quinn, Councilmember Brewer, and other councilmembers who are making history. This legislation moves us closer to the day when all of New York's working families enjoy economic security." Bill Lipton, Working Families Party.”
- Bill Lipton, Working Families Party