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Mayor Bloomberg Says He’ll Veto Bill Mandating Sick Leave

New York City to Mandate Paid Sick Time for Most Employees
Pedestrians cross a road in New York. The law, if adopted, will mean workers won’t have to fear losing a job because of illness. It will affect 1 million New Yorkers by 2015. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloombe

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he’ll veto a plan to require all New York City employers with 20 or more workers to give employees paid time off when they get sick.

“While this compromise version of the bill is better than previous iterations, it will still hurt small businesses and stifle job creation,” Bloomberg said in a statement released by his office.

City Council members struck a compromise on the measure, which was supported by both business and labor groups, last night. The accord would have required all employers in the city to provide unpaid sick leave starting in 2014.

Speaker Christine Quinn, who is among five Democrats running for the party’s mayoral nomination, had previously blocked efforts to bring such a proposal, backed by 38 of the 51 council members, to a vote. A two-thirds majority is enough to override Bloomberg’s veto.

A similar measure has won approval in Portland, Oregon, while others are pending in Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington state.

Supporters are pushing for paid sick time because they say the 20-year-old federal Family and Medical Leave Act doesn’t go far enough. The bill granted as much as 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave to new parents and those who are sick or have ill dependents. About 40 percent of workers aren’t covered because it applies only to those working more than 25 hours a week and employers with 50 or more employees.

44 Million Deprived

Forty-four million Americans don’t get paid time off when sick, according to Family Values @ Work, a nonprofit group leading 20 state and local coalitions backing paid-leave laws.

In places where such policies are in place -- Connecticut, Seattle, Washington, San Francisco and Long Beach, California -- workers earn a minimum number of days a year, depending on the size of their employer. They can use the time off to care for themselves or dependents. The smallest workplaces are sometimes exempt.

Opponents, including the National Federation of Independent Businesses, have been busy, too. They’re backing proposed state laws in Florida, Washington and Michigan that seek to stem the spread of paid sick leave by cutting off the ability of municipalities to impose it. Wisconsin, Mississippi and Louisiana already have passed such measures, which backers say help avoid a hodgepodge of local laws.

The National Restaurant Association, the biggest industry trade association, is part of a coalition of business groups opposed to mandatory sick-leave policies.

Bloomberg is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

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