2010-10-22 / Editorial/Opinion

A Worker’s Right To Be Paid While Sick

For more than one million workers in New York City, getting sick is a luxury they cannot afford. Not only do many workers lack basic health insurance, many more work for companies that don’t provide pay for sick days. For that reason, many workers work sick, passing on their illness to other workers or exacerbating their condition. Others find that they stay home sick only to be told that their job has been filled by somebody else when they come back to work. For those reasons, City Councilwoman Gale Brewer introduced the Paid Sick Day Bill. The new law would mandate that businesses with more than ten employees provide nine sick days for each of their workers. Smaller businesses would only have to provide five annual sick days. While the bill is supported by the majority of council members, the Working Families Party and a number of labor unions, the opposition has been fierce. Both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his surrogate, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, have come out in opposition to the new bill. In fact, last week, she may have put the last nail in the coffin, at least for now, by putting the bill on the back burner, despite the fact that the majority of her membership wants it passed. The mayor has stated that the City Council has no right telling business people how to run their businesses and that the bill would destroy many small businesses in New York City. The New York State Restaurant Association said that it prizes its workers and understands that sick days are sometimes necessary, but that the Council law “goes too far,” and would put many small restaurants out of business. “This is the wrong bill with the wrong approach at the wrong time,” a spokesperson for the association said in a prepared statement. We disagree. We believe that one of the basic rights of American workers is adequate health care, and the implementation of a Sick Day Bill would go a long way to providing workers with the security they need should they get ill. We urge Quinn to bring the bill to the floor and allow a vote.

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