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NYC council extends sick leave to more businesses

The City Council extended its paid sick leave law Tuesday to include businesses with at least five employees rather than the current 15, giving far more workers time off to recover from illnesses.

The revised law would go into effect in April and was passed on a 46-5 vote.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said that for too long hardworking New Yorkers had to make a tough choice between a paycheck and the health of a loved one or themselves.

"We need to pass this legislation not only to ensure that no New Yorker falls into crisis and insecurity just because he or she or a family member becomes ill, but also because it is simply the right thing to do," she said in a statement.

The council's decision will ensure that at least half a million New Yorkers -- up from 350,000 -- get the paid sick leave of at least five days. In addition to reducing the minimum number of employees, the decisio also increased the statute of limitations to file a complaint from nine months to two years and includes a grace period of six months before businesses would be fined.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who pushed for the bill to be passed when he was public advocate, said the move will go a long way to fighting inequality.

"The paid sick leave legislation is the first law I will have the privilege of signing as mayor, and it represents the first of many steps our city will take toward creating one New York, where everyone rises together," he said in a statement.

The bill was in limbo for years after small-business groups, including all of the borough's chambers of commerce, said it would burden mom-and-pop shops.

"What I see every day is that their bottom line is getting thinner and thinner," Linda Baran, president and chief executive of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, said.

Mark-Viverito responded to claims the small businesses didn't know about the bill's changes until the last-minute, saying "conversations has been happening for three years."

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