The New York City Council is gearing up to vote on legislation that would mandate private employers across New York City to provide employees with up to nine days of paid sick leave. It has the support of 38 members of the City Council which, even if the mayor should veto the bill, will still ensure its passage. I believe that this government mandate is a burden to all businesses, who are already struggling in a difficult economy. The bill, although well intentioned, will discourage business owners from hiring, curtail other employee benefits, or even worse, lead to layoffs of current employees.
While no one wants to see a worker from having to choose between going to work sick or losing a day's pay, this legislation does not address the real concern. The move to mandate paid sick leave to all workers rewards bad behavior and punishes good employees. Legitimate employers already give paid sick time and illegitimate businesses will find ways to skirt the law resulting in more workers being paid “off the books” to avoid the additional cost of paying them for sick time.
Intro No 1059 unnecessarily imposes a government mandate upon New York City’s business community, which already faces the daily challenge and high cost of doing business in the city. Doing the math, there will be a cost to city employers of over $8 billion a year. The bottom line is that this legislation is unnecessary and will hurt employers and employees.
This law will not only hurt struggling businesses in the worst economy in 80 years, it will put many out of business. In addition, it will make New York City that much less desirable for future businesses and those here will relocate to areas outside New York City if possible.
The claim that employees will not get co-workers sick because they will stay home is ridiculous. If that were a real problem businesses would experience waves of illness throughout their organizations every time one person got sick. That is not happening now.
City Council members must understand the ramifications of their actions before it is too late. Let’s crack down on those businesses that mistreat their workers and support the overwhelming majority of good business people who find it more and more difficult to do business in this city.
Jack Friedman is the executive vice president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.