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The Business Cost of New NYC Mayor's Plan to Expand Paid Sick Days

In his first legislative effort as mayor, Bill de Blasio aims to expand paid sick leave requirements to additional businesses.

Taking a sick day may be a luxury few business owners can afford. But as far as their employees are concerned, the benefit soon may not be negotiable, at least in New York City.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the new City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito are expected today to outline their plans for expanding a proposal for requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave to workers--potentially putting new requirements on tens of thousands of small businesses.


In his inauguration address this month, de Blasio mentioned the need to work "toward a fairer, more just, more progressive place" and to "keep the promise of New York alive for the next generation."

To this end, de Blasio is planning to expand on an existing law requiring companies with at least 20 workers to provide five days of paid sick leave each year. Under the new plan, which he and Mark-Viverito are expected to announce today at press conference in Brooklyn, N.Y., companies with five or more workers would be required to offer five days of paid sick leave each year.

The existing law was enacted in June, despite a veto by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. It's set to go into effect in April of this year.

While NYC is now the largest city in the U.S. to require paid sick leave for workers, similar proposals have been offered in other states. In New Jersey, for example, legislators are weighing a measure that would require all businesses to provide between five and nine days of paid sick leave each year to each employee.

Though an obvious benefit for employees, business groups largely view the proposal as an undue burden on small businesses.

Legally mandating paid time off would create a uniform benefit plan for all businesses, rather than allowing employers to tailor benefits to fit in with their individual workplaces, according to business advocacy group, the National Federation for Independent Business. It's tantamount to a double whammy for businesses, the group says. Businesses would need to not only pay for the employees who are sick but also fund their replacements, or suffer productivity losses.

Yet, the argument can be made that allowing workers to stay home if they're sick could actually boost a business's productivity. Not only do sick workers tend to be less productive, they can get others sick too.

Last updated: Jan 17, 2014

DIANA RANSOM | Features Editor

Diana Ransom is features editor at Inc. She has been covering the never-dull world of small business and entrepreneurship for years at a variety of publications including The Wall Street Journal,, the New York Daily News, Fast Company magazine and Entrepreneur. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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