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NYC Council speaker: Sick leave plan a balance

NEW YORK (AP) — A plan to require thousands of New York City businesses to provide paid sick leave balances workers’ needs with businesses’ concerns, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said Friday, a day after announcing that lawmakers and advocates reached a deal on the hotly contested issue.

Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he’d veto what he called a short-sighted measure that would be bad for the city’s economy.
Quinn, however, said the measure was “simply the right thing to do” and pledged that the council would override a veto.

“It provides a critically important benefit to New Yorkers, and it does that without putting jobs at risk” or causing administrative burdens for businesses or hardship for mom-and-pop enterprises, she said outside City Hall while flanked by council members, union leaders and members, and advocacy groups. “This legislation strikes the balance of those interests in an important and effective way.”

Businesses with 20 or more employees would have to provide five paid sick days a year beginning in April 2014, while businesses with 15 or more workers would have to do the same by October 2015. Smaller businesses would have to provide unpaid sick time, so workers couldn’t lose a job for spending a day at home to attend to their health or a relative’s.

A vote on the plan is expected next month.

City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, the bill’s sponsor, said she tallied some 500 conference calls on the issue over the years, not to mention hundreds of news conferences, rallies and meetings. “This is a tremendous accomplishment of which all fair-minded New Yorkers can be proud.”

Bloomberg, a businessman-turned-politician, had opposed the idea of requiring paid sick leave, saying that many small enterprises can’t afford it.

“While this compromise version of the bill is better than previous iterations, it will still hurt small businesses and stifle job creation,” he said in a statement. “Supporters claim it will only take effect if the economy is healthy, but there is never a good time to make New York City less competitive.”

City councils in Portland, Ore., and Philadelphia approved paid sick leave proposals this month. San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and the state of Connecticut already have such laws.

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