Just before the City Council held its first hearings on the Paid Sick Time act yesterday, Gloria Steinem joined over a hundred people who rallied on the City Hall steps to support the groundbreaking bill:
The bill would mandate up to nine days paid leave for people at firms with more than 10 workers, or up to five days at smaller firms.
It has widespread support in the City Council, but Mayor Bloomberg hasn’t embraced it for smaller companies, making for a potential showdown.
Proponents said leave would not only preserve individuals’ health, but help curb the spread of ailments such as the H1N1 virus.
“Paid sick days is a matter of basic fairness,” said Quenia Abreu of the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
The sides had wildly differing cost estimates: Kevin Miller of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research said at least 850,000 workers would receive leave under the law, costing $332 million. But a city business coalition pegged the annual cost at $8.8 billion.
If that $8.8 billion figure sounds high it’s because, well, it is. Crain’s New York Insider did the math:
Crain’s: About That $7.7 Billion …
The paid-sick-leave bill being debated today by the City Council would cost employers $8 billion annually, or about 1.6% of the gross city product, according to the city’s main chambers of commerce. But that assumes an average hourly wage of $27.44 and includes all private-sector workers, not just those lacking sick days. Proponents estimate the annual cost at $332 million in wages and lost productivity, about $7.7 billion less. They point to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research study that factors in only those lacking paid sick time.