Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kensington Resident Cari Jackson Organizes Rally for Paid Sick Leave Legislation

Many New Yorkers are not aware that a huge percentage of employees in the private-sector workforce are not entitled to paid sick leave. In order to bring a solution to this problem, Kensington resident Cari Jackson, along with several others, organized a rally in mid-October, demanding legislation which would give workers in New York between five to seven accrued paid sick days each year.

More Than You Think

The estimated number of private-sector workers in New York is about 1 million, or 37%.

“Many people aren’t aware of how many New Yorkers don’t have paid sick time,” said Cari Jackson.  “A million don’t have it, and even if you do, many can’t use it if their kids get sick — that puts a real burden on parents.”

Shelved Legislation

Christine C. Quinn
New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn introduced a measure in 2009 addressing this issue, but she chose to shelve it temporarily in the hopes that with an improvement in the economy the law’s chances of passing would improve. Others believe that the postponement of pushing ahead with the legislation was a way to please the business community to pave the way to a successful mayoral bid in 2013.

Public Health Issue, Too

Supporters of the legislation add that the issue is not just economic, but affects the public health of New Yorkers as well. When faced with the choice of staying home and losing money, or going to work sick, most people will go to work which poses a threat to everyone else in the work place. In addition, when workers are not able to stay home with sick children they will send their sick kids to school to avoid having their pay docked.

Good Business or Bad?

Business leaders are opposed to the sick leave legislation, stating that it could be an extra burden on business during difficult economic times. However the Bureau of Labor Statistics have data which shows that paid sick leave, on average, makes up only 1 percent of all payroll costs. Supporters of the law say this is not much of a burden for businesses to bear.

“We had to mandate a minimum wage and minimum age for work, and we have to mandate this,” Jackson later explained. “If you don’t offer paid sick time it’s just pure greed. Businesses have a responsibility to ensure the health of their employees.”