Council passes paid sick leave bill

Quinn, center, attends a NYC Paid Sick Days

Quinn, center, attends a NYC Paid Sick Days rally and news conference at City Hall. (Charles Eckert) (Credit: Quinn, center, attends a NYC Paid Sick Days rally and news conference at City Hall. (Charles Eckert))

After four years of negotiations and stalls, the City Council passed its paid sick leave bill Wednesday.

The 45-3 vote on the Earned Sick Time Act guarantees that the Council can override the expected veto from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Under the bill's rules, businesses with 20 or more employees must provide at least five paid sick days starting April 1, 2014. Eighteen months later, that law will extend to businesses with 15 or more workers.

The measure aims to remove a burden on more than a million New Yorkers who had to choose between their health and their jobs, according to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

"The Council's legislation provides this time to people who need the access to it," Quinn said.

Councilwoman Gale Brewer introduced the bill back in 2009; however, several business groups, including the chambers of commerce from all five boroughs, said it would hurt the mom and pop owners who couldn't afford to give the time off.

After parts of the bill were revised, such as the minimum number of employees, several groups like the Queens and Brooklyn chambers of commerce changed their position.

There are safeguards to prevent the bill from hurting struggling businesses since it will only be enacted if the city's economy is sound, according to Quinn.

The bill still has critics, the biggest being the mayor who has repeatedly said he would veto the measure because it hurts small businesses. His office didn't issue any statement following the vote.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio criticized Quinn, his opponent in the Democratic primary for the mayoral election, for not bringing the bill to a vote earlier. "Today is a step forward, but it's one that has come years late because of Speaker Quinn's obstruction," he said in a statement.

Quinn said she was initially against the bill when it was first introduced because the economy was in bad shape and now was the perfect time to introduce the measure.

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