April 2, 2013
By Carlo A. Scissura, Esq. President & CEO Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has been active in the Paid Sick Leave discussion for nearly three years, and I want to thank those of you who participated in the Chamber's educational outreach by responding to our surveys and helping shape the dialogue on this important issue.
On March 29, 2013, at City Hall, I stood with Speaker Christine Quinn and several Brooklyn Council Members, along with labor leaders from across the city, as she announced a balanced measure that makes good business sense and I commend Speaker Quinn and the entire City Council for negotiating a good compromise on Paid Sick Leave.
This legislation in no way impacts small businesses — such as mom-and-pop stores with less than 20 employees — that could not otherwise afford to compensate their employees with sick pay. In addition, we agree that the Department of Consumer Affairs enforce the bill and that it is to be phased in over time. Another victory is that we fought to move enforcement from the Department of Health to Consumer Affairs.
I want to thank Speaker Quinn for standing up to the needs of small businesses while balancing that with the rights of workers.
While the bill is not yet voted into law, 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. Noteworthy is that fines are also significantly less than originally planned — from $1,000 and $5,000 reduced to $500 and $2,500 — and manufacturing is excluded from the bill as well.
This is certainly a business-friendly, sound approach to an important policy and we are thankful to Speaker Quinn and the City Council, for this accomplishment. We wish in particular to thank Council Member Gale Brewer for her early advocacy.