A Renewed Push for Paid Sick Leave Amidst Severe Flu Season

Sunday, January 13, 2013


While staying home MAY be the best course of action when it comes to the flu, it's not a viable option for all New Yorkers.

And as Governor Cuomo declares a public health emergency because of the severity of this flu season, City Councilmember Gale Brewer is emphasizing the importance of paid sick days for more workers in New York City. She is sponsoring a bill that would require employers to provide time off for ill employees.

Brewer says the bill would provide five paid sick days for businesses of more than five employees. "And you take it or lose it during the year. And it doesn't kick in until after some months after you've started your job," she added. 

Businesses with five employees or less would not be required to pay ill workers for sick days, but they also couldn't fire them for not working when they are under the weather.

"People really do not take time off if they're sick," Brewer says, "because of lack of pay, needing to pay the rent, and because they're fearful of getting fired."

The Councilmember says paid sick days would prevent people from going to work and school only to infect co-workers and classmates, causing further spread of sickness.

Brewer says that the problem is exacerbated when parents can't afford to lose a day's pay to stay home and care for sick children, so they send them off to school sick.

 "I'm sure right now as we speak kids are going to school sick. Their parents cannot take a day off," said the Councilmember.

Councilmember Brewer noted that her bill has widespread support from healthcare professionals. She says that emergency room staff report that they often treat flu patients who never return for follow-up care because they don't have paid sick leave.

A hearing on the bill was scheduled for last fall but was delayed because of Sandy. Brewer says she has been assured by City Council Speaker's Christine Quinn's office that the bill will receive a hearing soon.

Both the Speaker and Mayor Bloomberg have spoken out against the bill in the past, saying it could hurt businesses.


Brigid Bergin


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Comments [3]

Bea Dewing from Manhattan

For food service businesses, this should apply to all food-handlers and food servers from the first week on the job. No one with a contagious illness, not even a cold, should be handling other people's food.

Payroll records have to be kept by any legitimate business and should be available for review by inspectors. If you keep good records, there should not be an issue. If you cheat, you should get caught.

Jan. 15 2013 01:16 PM

I don't see why there should be an issue with anyone viewing a companies payroll records if they are abiding the rules. There are too many companies these days that threaten employees if they miss a single day, and refuse to provide any benefits. It's great to see there are employers out there that care about their employees, but there are many who could care less.

Jan. 15 2013 10:59 AM
John Bonizio from Bronx

Personally, I support the ideal of protecting my workers with sick pay. In fact, I provide each of my employees with 15 personal days per year. I am still opposed to this legislation. Why? Because its not just about sick pay. It provides for the examination of payroll records of ALL businesses in NYC by the Department of Health, with fines from $1,000 for a first offense to $5,000. This bill is a wolf in sheeps' clothing, and it will severely damage the economy in NYC as it is written. Ask any restaurant or bar owner about the effect of the DOH fine system on their businesses and then ask yourself if we can afford this across the board. Politicians only want it for election purposes. They care nothing about the growth of jobs in this City. Don't believe the rhetoric, do the research and like me you will oppose the bill - even if you support the ideal.

Jan. 14 2013 06:12 PM

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