Today’s news:

Council sick day bill needs treatment

The Brooklyn Paper

A majority of Brooklyn City Councilmembers are backing a bill that would require large employers to provide nine paid sick days for their employees, and small businesses to provide five such days.

While this idea is noble, the bill itself has some serious flaws.

For one, most businesses already provide sufficient paid sick days for their workers. To cover the new mandate, those that don’t could merely cut your personal or vacation days. So much for the new benefit!

But where the bill targets small businesses — specifically, the Mom and Pops that are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods — things really go awry.

One part of the bill, for example, requires such business to keep detailed records of worker attendance, plus track the exact number of workers they have at all times. As anyone who has run a business knows, such reporting requires a substantial amount of work (not that most members of the Council have every actually overseen a payroll, but that’s another story).

Mom and Pop would also have to provide sick leave to part-time employees, something that, again, sounds reasonable, but could severely increase the cost of doing business, and would likely keep employers from hiring workers “on the books.”

Which brings us to the huge elephant in the room — the undocumented workers who are not addressed by the bill. Given the nature of the hidden economy in this city, no small business is going to rush to put an undocumented worker on the tax rolls simply to then be forced to provide five days off.

Also, another part of the bill allows for sick days to be booked in advance — language that leaves the law open for abuse by allowing workers to extend a vacation or merely take a day off with pay. The rule on sick days should simply be that if you or your child or spouse wakes up sick, you call in sick. Booking such days in advance violates the spirit of the employee-employer compact.

Another provision forbids employers from retaliating or discriminating against employees who exercise their rights to these new paid sick days. We agree on the need to prevent unfair retaliation, but we strongly reject forcing employers to stand idly by if employees abuse their new rights under this law. If a worker is using these paid sick days as vacation days, employers need to have recourse.

One last way to know that this is a bad bill? It specifically exempts government from its requirements!

So despite the reasonable intentions behind this Council effort, we cannot support the bill as written.

Pin It
Print this story Permalink

Reader Feedback

Steve from Brooklyn says:
"For one, most businesses already provide sufficient paid sick days for their workers."

Completely utterly amazingly stunningly wrong.

For workers in the bottom 25 percent of wages, 63 percent do not receive any sick pay AT ALL, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And it is that category of workers that would be most affected by this bill.

"Mom and Pop would also have to provide sick leave to part-time employees, something that, again, sounds reasonable, but could severely increase the cost of doing business, and would likely keep employers from hiring workers “on the books.”

This is a standard trope of anyone arguing against any kind of increased worker protection. Take what they're giving you or otherwise the increased cost boogey man will come and take your job. It's a thinly veiled threat.

What would you rather have? A worker with H1N1 coughing on your salad or some enhanced worker protections?

While the bill has some flaws, all workers should have the right to some sick days.
Nov. 28, 2009, 5:56 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Links