New York City Council Reaches Deal To Give Workers Paid Sick Days

After years of debate, the New York City Council has finally come to an agreement on paid sick leave legislation. It is now poised to pass a bill that would require any company with more than 15 employees to provide five days of paid leave annually, and any company with fewer employees to give 5 days of unpaid leave.

On Thursday, Speaker Christine Quinn (D), considered a favorite for the New York City mayoral race, signaled that she would be willing to work on a compromise. Quinn had previously refused to bring the bill up for a vote, expressing unfounded concerns that paid sick leave would be bad for business and lead to job loss.

Just hours after Quinn said she would participate, the deal was reached:

“Throughout these negotiations I have always said that I was willing to listen and engage all sides,” said Quinn in a statement. “Because of deliberate, thoughtful, and at times hard-nosed negotiations, we now have a piece of legislation that balances the interests of workers, small business owners, and local mom and pop proprietors across this City.”

The legislation is not as strong as paid sick leave laws in Seattle, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Portland, Oregon, which all require companies with more than five employees to offer paid sick days. The New York City proposal also will be implemented slowly: it wouldn’t take effect until 2014 and would only apply to companies with more than 20 employees for the first year and a half. Some low-wage workers, like the many restaurant workers in establishments with fewer than 15 people, will still be forced to choose between losing wages or coming into work sick. Quinn’s colleague and mayoral opponent Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio tweeted that he will keep pushing to make the law more inclusive:

Companies with more than 20 employees would have until April 1, 2014 to comply with the law; companies with between 15 and 20 employees will have until October 1, 2015. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to veto the proposal if it is passed, but the Council likely has enough votes to override his rejection.