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Supporters Of NYC Paid Sick Leave Bill Rally At City Hall

Supporters of New York City's paid sick leave bill rally at City Hall on Friday, March 29, 2013 (credit: CBS 2)

Supporters of New York City’s paid sick leave bill rally at City Hall on Friday, March 29, 2013 (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — There were chants of victory Friday as lawmakers, union members and labor advocates celebrated what they say is a win for workers across New York City with a new bill that guarantees paid sick leave for employees.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and fellow lawmakers stood on the steps of City Hall to officially announce the agreement, which was reached Thursday night.

“It protects people, protects small businesses and I’m incredibly proud with this final piece of legislation,” she said.

In the past, Quinn has argued that while the goals of a paid sick leave bill are laudable, the measure would hurt struggling employers.

But the bill proposed Thursday would require businesses with 20 or more employees to provide five paid sick days to their workers beginning April 1, 2014 and to businesses with 15 or more employees by October 1, 2015.

All employees would have to be employed for at least four months to be eligible, including part-time workers. Seasonal workers and work-study students would not be eligible.

Under the proposed bill, which would be enforced by the Department of Consumer Affairs, businesses of any size must provide unpaid sick leave to their employees beginning April 1, 2014.

“We wanted to do it in a way that was mindful of the economy and small businesses, both in size and impact,” Quinn said.

Councilmember Gale Brewer, who has pushed a paid sick leave bill for three years, said in a statement she was “honored” to be part of a City Council that addressed the issue.

“One million New Yorkers will now have the fundamental right to take a paid day off when they or a family member is ill, and no worker will be fired if they must stay home,” she said.

But for some small businesses, the proposition of paid sick leave will mean less for their bottom line.

“All costs hurt,” said the owner of Henry’s restaurant, Henry Reineheart.

Right now at Reineheart’s Upper West Side restaurant, he does not pay his wait or kitchen staff for sick days, but he’ll have to under the new plan.

Reinehart said it will probably cost him thousands of dollars a year. But with more than a million workers citywide who may benefit from the plan, most, including Reinehart, say it’s a deal worth backing.

“Generally, what’s good for my employees is good for me,” he said.

The purpose of the plan is to ensure workers don’t lose pay or even their jobs simply because they’re sick.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has opposed a paid sick leave bill and has promised to veto the bill in the past because of concerns about the impact on the economy and business owners.

He issued the following statement Friday: “Since the onset of the national recession, our Administration has been singularly focused on rebuilding our economy. We have succeeded in bouncing back far more quickly than the rest of the country, and the number of private-sector jobs in the city is now at an all-time high – but there are still far too many New Yorkers out of work, and it is crucial that we continue doing everything we can to allow businesses to grow.

While this compromise version of the bill is better than previous iterations, it will still hurt small businesses and stifle job creation. 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. The bill is short-sighted economic policy that will take our city in the wrong direction, and I will veto it.”

But Quinn called it a “good, strong, and sensible piece of legislation that recognizes the needs of everyday New Yorkers and the realities that our struggling small businesses face.”

Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer issued the following statement regarding the agreement: “Today’s legislation granting paid sick days to working New Yorkers is big step forward for New York and the nation. No longer will parents have to choose between caring for a sick child or losing their jobs, and that’s good for employers and employees alike.

The history of our great country is full of valiant struggles for workplace protections – from child labor laws and the 40-hour work week, to Social Security and the Family Leave Act – and today’s agreement providing for paid sick days belongs in that same proud tradition.

I commend Councilmember Gale Brewer, her colleagues in the City Council and the Paid Sick Coalition for their faithful dedication to this cause, and for championing smart, progressive policies that support the work-life balance so critical to working New Yorkers.”

City Council is expected to pass the measure.

A previous version of the bill would have required businesses with 20 or more employees give their workers each nine paid sick days a year.

Where do you stand on the paid sick leave bill? Share your thoughts below.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)