Dueling Numbers on Sick Leave
September 28th, 2010

Council members, choose your numbers! Two studies have been issued today on the effect of a proposal now in City Council that would require employers to give their worker paid sick leavewould have on the economy — and they will almost certainly do nothing to resolve the issue.

One, by the Drum Major Institute, a progressive think tank, found mandatory paid sick leave would “not harm job growth or business growth.”

The Drum Major study used San Francisco’s experience with paid sick leave. It concluded that, in the three years since that city has enacted a mandatory sick leave policy similar to the one proposed for New York, “both job growth and business growth in San Francisco have consistently been greater than in the five neighboring counties of the Bay Area, none of which have enacted paid sick leave.”

Meanwhile a survey by the Partnership for New York City, a business group, also released today, said any mandatory paid sick leave law would “devastate the citys construction, restaurant and non-profit sector.” The partnership study was based on responses to a survey of employers on how their businesses might be affected by any such law.

Some 708 employers responded, leading Ernest & Young, which conducted the study, to calculate that the bill would cost private employers some $789 million a year, increasing payroll costs by 0.3 percent. The construction, hospitality and utilities industries would see the greatest rise, the study found, and nonprofits would face a particular burden at a time of “significant budget cuts.”

In addition, the survey questioned the need for such a bill, saying the number of paid employees who have no sick leave is smaller than that claimed by supporters of the bill. Probably to no one’s surprise, given the partnership is already on record opposing mandatory paid sick leave, the study “concludes that this is not the moment for New York City to proceed with a Paid Sick Leave mandate on private employers.”

To add to the storm of numbers, paid sick leave advocates later this morning released new numbers which said paid sick leave costs about 39 cents per employee hour worked, The advocates also questioned the methodology of the partnership study and charged the group misstated the requirements of the bill, particularly with regard to workers who already get paid sick leave.

It reiterated what it sees as the need for the requirement, saying than many low paid and service industry workers do not get sick leave.

“While the bosses in the corner office can stay home without losing pay when the flu strikes, the security guards protecting their front doors generally cannot,” Nancy Rankin, a senior fellow at A Better Balance, a leader in the fight for the bill, said in a statement. “And when high-priced attorneys and bankers lunch, chances are the workers preparing and serving them their food do not have access to a single day of paid sick leave. … It’s time to end these wide disparities and their very real public health consequences.”

The paid sick leave measure, sponsored by Councilmember Gale Brewer, was introduced last year. But Council Speaker Christine Quinn never let it come to the floor. Brewer and other members, along with the Working Families Party, then put forth a revised version this year. A majority of members have signed on to the bill — the general thinking is,if it, comes to a vote, it will pass. Whether that will happen is up to Quinn.

By on September 28, 2010, 1:24 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy,Health,Work and Labor | 2 Comments »

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