February 17, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Members of the business community expressed their frustration to City Council members that adhering to the expansion of the Earned Sick Time Act in 48 days isn’t enough time. Video
Last summer former Council Speaker Christine Quinn agreed to pass paid sick leave legislation, four years after former Councilwoman Gale Brewer introduced the bill. That bill applied to businesses with 20 or more employees. The expanded version calls for employers with 5 or more employees to offer five paid-sick days.
Members of the business community, including The Bodega Association and the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said at Friday’s hearing that they aren’t necessarily opposed to the expansion, but expressed concern that they won’t be able to comply with the new law in 48 days when its supposed to take effect.
But Robert Bookman of the Hospitality Alliance voiced a few other concerns about the expansion, such as the Department of Consumer Affairs initiating investigations to make sure employers are complying.
“This will add yet another layer of government on already overburdened small businesses, replete with gotcha fines,” said Bookman.
But the sponsor of the expanded Earned Paid Sick Time, Councilwoman Margaret Chin, said that the city is trying to address the business community concerns.
“I think we are tying to address, especially the small business perception of agencies coming down to do inspections. The last City Council looked at issues of inspections, so there’ll be some changes there,” said Chin.
But the councilwoman said that most of the concerns the business community expressed at the hearing shouldn’t prevent them from offering paid sick time.
“A lot of the stuff they raised are not things that should really prevent the businesses from offering paid sick time to their employees,” Chin added. “I think what is still missing is that the decent thing to do is that you have to take care of your workers. If you do that, your business will prosper,” Chin said.
Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for Housing and Economic Development, was asked by Councilman Vincent Ignizio about what would the cost be to businesses with five or less employees.
“We fundamentally believe that the long term productivity and cost savings for small business outweighs the actual cost of the earned paid sick leave,” said Glen.
In an interview, Councilman Ignizio said that business owners in his district have told them that the expansion will cost them money.
“They have said this will clearly cost them. Unfortunately, the unintended consequences of this bill is it fosters the underground economy and mandates that people have to pay for paid sick days without a tax incentive to help them pay for it,” said Ignizio.
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