Get Sick All You Want! New York City Passes A New Sick Leave Law

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June 28, 2013 ‐ By Ann Brown

New York City workers are celebrating.  New York City has just become the most populous place in the United States to make businesses provide workers with paid sick time, reports The Huffington Post. Lawmakers overrode a mayoral veto to pass a law that is expected to affect more than 1 million workers. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been battling against the law, claiming it will hurt small businesses.

Other cities, including Portland, Ore., San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. have already passed similar bills. And the entire state of Connecticut requires the benefit for at least some workers. But such measures have been struck down in other places, including Milwaukee, Denver and Philadelphia.

According to advocates, the bill is needed because workers shouldn’t have to choose between their physical and financial health. Also they argue customers and colleagues shouldn’t have to be exposed to co-workers who come to the job sick.

Critics, like Mayor Bloomberg, however say that the government should leave sick day arrangements to individual companies and workers because requiring it will burden small businesses.

“Faced with this increase in costs, employers will seek to offset them in any number of ways, including reducing other benefits employees receive… It will harm the very people it seeks to help,” wrote Bloomberg in vetoing the measure earlier this month. ”

Councilwoman Gale Brewer spearheaded the new law under which employees of businesses with 20 or more workers would get up to five paid sick days a year beginning in April 2014; the benefit would start by October 2015 at firms with 15 to 19 workers. All others must provide five unpaid sick days annual.

Employees could choose to work extra hours instead of taking sick time, a provision targeting those who’d rather trade shifts than stay home sick.  Also, manufacturing companies would be exempt from the paid sick time requirement due to the fact that they are struggling.

The New York City Council also voted to create an outside watchdog and make it easier to bring racial profiling claims against the New York Police Department. Both measures passed with enough votes to override expected mayoral vetoes reports.

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