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De Blasio Announces Expansion Of Hotly Contested Paid Sick Days Law

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a significant expansion of a law that requires employers to give workers paid sick days.

De Blasio unveiled the deal with newly elected City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and other council members on Friday.

The mayor is calling for businesses with five or more employees to provide five sick days, which would help more than 300,000 additional New Yorkers.

"What we are putting forward today will fundamentally improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of working New Yorkers — especially families struggling just to get by," de Blasio said. "Beginning this year, getting sick will no longer mean losing a day's pay, or potentially a job, in the city of New York."

Under the current law, which was enacted in June, employees of businesses with 20 or more workers would get up to five paid sick days a year beginning in April 2014.

De Blasio Announces Expansion Of Paid Sick Days Law

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the bill when he was in office, saying it was decision that individual businesses owners should make. His veto was overridden by the City Council.

De Blasio made the expansion a major plank of his mayoral campaign. His rival, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, had initially opposed the paid sick legislation last year, which later hurt her in the very liberal Democratic primary.

"I'm so excited to be able to work for progressive change in this city," de Blasio said. "The mission we're all a part of is to make the lives of everyday people better, to ease the burden of hard-working New Yorkers, and that is how we create one city."

Advocates of the law argued that 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.

But critics said that the government should leave sick day arrangements to workers and bosses and that the requirement will burden small businesses. In all, 44,000 businesses in the city would have to pay up under the new law, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported.

"It would kill me," said small business owner Nicky Perry. "If they were to take five days off a year, I'm done. I haven't got the money for that."

De Blasio Announces Expansion Of Paid Sick Days Law

Perry said she already pays $60,000 a year in health insurance for her staffers and she's now worried what the additional expense would mean for her and her fellow small business owners.

"I can barely pay my real estate taxes that have gone from $1,000 to $4,200 a year," she said. "The rent is astronomical. They've gone from $900 to $9,000. It's very difficult out here on main street."

De Blasio has called paid sick leave a fundamental right, WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported. Many workers seem to agree.

"I think it's a good idea to have sick days for everybody," said hardware store employee Howard Weintraub. "I think it would help morale."

The expanded legislation also includes:

  • The removal of exemptions for the manufacturing sector.
  • Adding grandparents, grandchildren and siblings to the definition of family members workers can legally care for using paid sick time.
  • Eliminating the phase-in, which would have delayed coverage to workers at businesses between 15 and 20 workers.
  • Eliminating the economic trigger that could have delayed implementation of paid sick leave based on certain economic benchmarks.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 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.)

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