Paid Sick Leave May Wait for Business Group Study

A bill requiring employers to offer paid sick leave is perhaps the top legislative issue for a large chunk of the City Council. The more liberal council members, including Gale Brewer, and groups such as the Working Families Party have been pushing for a vote since last year (the bill has a veto-proof 36 sponsors), all to no avail, at least thus far.

Now, they may wait a bit more.

The Partnership for New York City, a group that represents big business in the city, has asked the Council to give it about three months to conduct an employer-oriented study on the effects of paid sick leave in the city. The effort is an attempt to tilt the balance of data, which the Partnership says has been dominated worker rights advocacy groups.

A study sponsored by a group that is against added burdens onto employers, of course, offers no political benefit to the members that simply want to pass the legislation and move on. Still, it’s hard to publicly oppose more data.

The Partnership’s president, Kathryn Wylde, confirmed that the organization was moving ahead with the study, and said she was working under the impression that the Council leadership is supportive of the effort:

“The Council has raised a number of questions about the big discrepancies in estimates of cost and impact of the bill that require some kind of organized input from employers, and we undertook this study to really respond to those questions and to make sure that New York City doesn’t pass legislation without understanding its consequences for all parties.

“I think the Speaker and Council Member Brewer are interested in making sure they have complete information on the size of the problem and the impacts of the legislation,” she said, “And they have encouraged us to work with them and with representatives of some of the advocacy groups.”

(Brewer, who has taken a lead on the issue, declined to comment on the study. Jamie McShane, a spokesman for Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, “We do not have a schedule for completing our work on this bill. It is a very important matter and we are studying it carefully.”)

The Working Families Party is not so pleased, calling it a “delay tactic.” Here’s a statement from WFP spokesman Dan Levitan:

“The Partnership’s proposal is an unfortunate delay tactic. Paid sick days have been studied to death, by economists, by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and by other cities with similar laws.  Their conclusion is unanimous: providing paid sick days costs employers little, but it would be a tremendous benefit for the 1.3 million New Yorkers who cannot take a day off when they are sick. After two substantive City Council hearings, it’s time for a vote.”