NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York City lawmakers overrode a mayoral veto early Thursday to pass a law that provides more than 1 million workers with paid sick time.
With the vote, the city joined Portland, Ore., San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C. and the state of Connecticut in requiring the benefit for at least some workers.
Supporters see the measure as a pace-setter, although it has some significant limits and conditions and they envision such laws becoming a national norm in coming years.
“The catalyst will have been the successful struggle we waged here in New York City,” said Dan Cantor, the national executive director of the Working Families Party.
Advocates say workers shouldn’t have to choose between their physical and financial health. And customers and colleagues shouldn’t have to be exposed to employees who come to work sick, supporters add.
But critics say that the government should leave sick day arrangements to workers and bosses and that the requirement will burden small businesses.
“Faced with this increase in costs, employers will seek to offset them in any number of ways, including reducing other benefits employees receive,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote in vetoing the measure earlier this month. “— It will harm the very people it seeks to help.”
The huge financial information firm he founded, Bloomberg LP, does offer paid sick time, he has noted. But small companies can’t afford it, he says.
Under the new law, businesses with 20 or more employees will have to give their employees five paid sick days starting April 1, 2014.
The following year, the requirement expands to include businesses with 15 employees by October 2015. All others would have to provide five unpaid sick days per year, meaning that workers couldn’t get fired for using those days.
“Sick time can be used for an employee’s physical or mental illness injury or medical care and for the same purposes when caring for a spouse, domestic partner, child or parent,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said last month.
The bill exempts manufacturing jobs and seasonal and work-study employees. The requirements could be postponed if the city’s economy takes a major dive.
Employees could choose to work extra hours instead of taking sick time, a provision aimed at those who would rather swap shifts than stay home sick.
New Yorkers told CBS 2’s Dick Brennan that they were pleased by the City Council’s decision to override the veto.
“If you get sick who’s gonna take care of the bills? I believe it’s a good thing,” father of two Victor Escarfullett said.
That provision could be attractive to restaurant servers, for example, since the paid sick time wouldn’t include tips.
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