Thursday, March 28, 2013

NYC restaurants get some bad news

For once, Mayor Bloomberg isn’t the villain behind a regulatory burden that’s about to drop on New York restaurant. But he’s not strong enough politically to be the hero, either. Despite the Mayor’s resistance, restaurants and other businesses in the city will likely be hit with a requirement to provide paid sick leave for employees.

The mandate wouldn’t go into effect until April 2014, and initially some small places would get a reprieve. A business would not be required to provide the five days of paid sick leave until it employed at least 20 people. Eighteen months later, the threshold would drop to 15 staffers.

Restaurants of course fall squarely within that target group. Those small enough to be exempt will be obliged to allow employees to take five days of unpaid sick leave without risk of losing their jobs.

Mayor Bloomberg is expected to veto the paid sick leave bill, which was pushed through the City Council by a consortium of labor groups. But the Council has enough votes to override his rejection.

The key figure in the wranglings: Speaker Christine Quinn, who is expected to succeed Bloomberg as mayor. She had been a staunch opponent of paid sick leave, but caved under pressure by big get-out-the-vote groups.

However, her attempts to temper the bill were lauded by the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a year-old trade group that represents restaurants and hotels in the New York area.

"We believe that this new 100% employer funded mandate properly belongs in discussion in the New York State Legislature where the cost can be funded by employers and employees, and administered by the State," executive director Andrew Rigie said in a prepared statement. "However, we recognize the political realities in New York City do not presently allow for this...We thank Speaker Quinn for standing up for the small business community in these difficult economic times."

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