Deal Reached On Paid Sick Days For New York City Workers

New York is poised to become the largest American city to mandate that companies provide paid time off for sick employees

Wonderful news! Congratulations to the Working Families Party coalition and the other progressive orgs whose members worked for three years to make this victory happen. As anyone who's from Europe will tell you, it's just plain crazy that so many Americans still can't stay home from work when they're sick:

New York is poised to become the largest American city to mandate that companies provide paid time off for sick employees.

A compromise agreement reached Thursday night resulted from a raw display of political muscle by a coalition of labor unions and liberal activists who overcame fierce objections from New York’s business-minded mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, and his allies in the corporate world.

The agreement required a high-profile concession from a leading candidate to succeed Mr. Bloomberg. The candidate, Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, had single-handedly blocked action on the sick-leave issue for three years, arguing that it would inflict damage on the city’s fragile economy.

The compromise legislation would eventually force firms with at least 15 employees to give workers five compensated days off when they are ill, a requirement that advocates said would allow much of the city’s labor force to stay home from work without fear of losing a day’s wage — or worse, a job. The advocates said the legislation would provide paid sick leave for one million New Yorkers who do not currently have such benefits.

But to the disappointment of those who pushed for a more sweeping version of the legislation, New York City’s mandate would not take effect until spring 2014, and for the first 18 months, it would apply only to businesses with 20 or more employees, according to people involved in the negotiations.

The measure is subject to a vote by the City Council, but a majority of Council members have already indicated they support paid sick leave legislation. Mr. Bloomberg is expected to veto the measure, but there is enough support on the Council to override his veto.

Under the legislation, companies exempt from the requirement because of their low number of employees would have to offer workers five days of unpaid sick leave.

Whether the sick leave is paid or unpaid, firms will be legally forbidden from firing workers for taking such time off.

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