March 01, 2013 at 13:48 PM EST
The paid sick leave amendments, in full
Supporters of city-mandated paid sick leave legislation shared a list of amendments made last year to make the legislation more palatable to the business community, ahead of a March 22 hearing on the contentious bill. The office of Manhattan Councilwoman Gale Brewer, the bill's prime sponsor, provided a one-page summary of what is now in the bill and what has changed. The document was produced in conjunction with the pro-sick leave group A Better Balance. The amendments, made last fall, have not persuaded Christine Quinn, the council speaker, to allow a vote on the bill. The amendments: Up to five paid sick days a year would be provided to workers by businesses with five or more employees. Previously, business with 20 or more workers had to provide as many as nine paid sick days annually. Businesses with fewer than five employees could not fire employees for taking up to five unpaid sick days. But they would not have to offer paid sick days. If an employer and employee agree, an employee with a personal or family illness can swap shifts with a colleague instead of using paid sick days. But a business cannot require an employee to involuntarily change a shift instead of using paid sick time. Independent contractors and work-study students would not be covered by the bill. A worker would only be able to take paid time off to care for himself, a spouse, a child, a parent or a domestic partner. Employers would be able to determine time increments by which workers can use paid sick time. If an employer has a policy of requiring workers to take at least half a day off when they call in sick, for instance, that policy need not be changed. New businesses with fewer than 20 employees shall have a one-year grace period before being covered by the law. (These employers would be able to use full-time equivalents to determine their business size.) During declared public emergencies, employers under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission do not have to comply with the bill. (The idea here is to deter utility workers from calling in sick during a blackout.) Several of the major amendments were the product of a letter Manhattan Councilman Dan Garodnick wrote to Ms. Brewer last fall suggesting changes to bill, although a spokeswoman for Ms. Brewer said they were also the result of "hundreds" of discussions with advocates and the business community. Leaders of the Queens and Bronx chambers of commerce initially reacted favorably to Mr. Garodnick's proposed amendments, but the five borough chambers of commerce remain officially opposed to the bill. The impact that Superstorm Sandy had on small businesses has also slowed the legislation's momentum. Paid sick leave issue has become a factor in the 2013 Democratic mayoral primary. Ms. Quinn has refused to bring the bill to the floor, though it has enough sponsors for a veto-proof majority. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Comptroller John Liu strongly support the bill, while ex-Comptroller Bill Thompson is on the fence. The labor-backed Working Families Party is continuing to push for the measure, and Mr. de Blasio in particular has been stressing Ms. Quinn's current opposition as a campaign issue.
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