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Lessons from San Francisco as Paid Sick Leave Bill Passes NYC

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Councilwoman Gale Brewer and SEIU 32 BJ union president Hector Figueroa along with supporters announce paid sick leave bill at City Hall. (Brigid Bergin/WNYC)

The City Council passed a landmark paid sick leave bill on Wednesday. The bill, which would require five paid sick days a year, would affect 300,000 New Yorkers and apply to businesses with 20 or more employees starting April 1, 2014.

San Francisco was the first city in the nation to pass a paid sick leave bill. It's been a model for similar legislation in Washington D.C., Portland, Seattle and Connecticut.

Jennifer Pillat owns Zazie, a French Bistro in San Francisco with 32 employees. She was initially concerned about the cost but has found the bill actually helped her business.

"We had several times before paid sick leave where we had to close for a day because I couldn't find anyone to work, everyone was sick, and that just doesn't happen anymore," she said. "We have one or two people sick at a time, and we can manage that."

Pillat has all her workers take an on-call day, just in case another employee is sick. She's calculated that has cost her $3,500 a year for providing nine paid sick days a year, which is the law in San Francisco.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vowed to veto the measure. Critics claim it would hurt small businesses.

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