By: Catherine Clifford, a Special to Overdrive
Under federal law, you don’t have to pay your employees if they don’t come to work because they are sick. However, a growing number of places are moving to make paid sick time mandatory. As of Thursday, New York City is expected to be the latest addition to that list. San Francisco kicked off the trend of requiring employers to provide paid sick time in 2007, followed by Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee, in 2008, and Connecticut, Philadelphia and Seattle in 2011.
According to a 2010 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and working-family rights advocacy organization A Better Balance, 62 percent of all businesses and 53 percent of those with fewer than 100 employees provide access to paid sick time.
New York City Councilwoman Christine Quinn has pushed against a city-wide mandate for paid sick time, arguing that in a sluggish post-recessionary economy, small-business owners “are on the brink, and they fear that any new costs will put them under.” But as of Thursday, Quinn and New York City workers reached an agreement on a proposal for requiring employers to provide paid time off for their workers, according to a written statement from Quinn’s office. The compromise comes as Quinn is making a run at taking over as mayor of New York in Mike Bloomberg’s stead.
The deal reached would, if passed, would require that employers with more than 15 employees provide their workers with paid sick time which they can use when either they themselves are ill or when they need to take care of sick family members. As of April 1, 2014, businesses with more than 20 employees would have to provide their employees with five paid sick days. And as of Oct. 1, 2015, businesses with 15 or more employees would have to comply.
“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,” Quinn said in a statement. About 1 million New Yorkers would be extended the benefit of paid sick time. No vote is yet scheduled, but the legislation is expected to pass because it has support from a majority of council members, according to a spokeswoman for Quinn.