This bill would dictate, for private sector employers of fifty or more employees who extend paid sick days, sick time or sick leave to their employees, the situations and circumstances under which employees would be entitled to use sick time under these employer sick day, sick time or sick leave programs. The Business Council opposes enactment of this bill.
- Voluntary paid sick days, sick time or sick leave time-off programs have evolved in private sector workplaces over decades. Private sector employers have used them to be competitive in their recruiting and retention efforts by providing certain paid time for employees ill and unable to work. In the last ten years, many employers have expanded these voluntary programs and instituted use of this paid time off beyond the employee’s personal illness to include caring for ill family members. Furthermore, many employers have adopted the use of Paid Time Off (PTO) banks that have combined previously separate voluntary paid vacation, sick, personal and sometimes holiday pay programs into one bank of time available for employees with flexible needs. Employers have made changes that reflect their competitive market position, culture, size, industry, location and what they can afford, reflecting the vast diversity of businesses here in New York State. All of this has happened without interference from the New York State Legislature.
- Businesses and their employees or collective bargaining representatives are best suited to determine what constitutes the appropriate components and use of voluntary time off programs for New York State private employers. This bill undermines the very purpose of the collective bargaining process and would launch an unprecedented level of state government mandated entitlement, replacing previously voluntary employee fringe benefit programs.
- Small and growing private businesses of less than fifty employees would have to consider whether to even include a paid sick day, sick time or sick leave component to their voluntary fringe benefit programs because of this interference by the state legislature.
- In the context of the federal Family/Medical Leave Act, this bill would entitle qualified employees to use sick days, sick time or sick leave on such leaves. The federal Family/Medical Leave Act has always left that decision to the employer mandated to offer the leave. Then, taking the entitlement one step further, even “…in those medical situations not covered by the federal family medical and leave act,” the employer is required to permit and the employee is entitled to take paid sick days, sick time or sick leave. So, even medical conditions (which are not defined in this bill) not qualifying for coverage under the federal act would be qualified under this new entitlement.
- As we work toward improvement of the state’s economy and the creation of jobs lost in the last several years, the Legislature needs to send loud and clear positive messages to businesses in and out of the state. Enactment of this bill sends no such message. In fact, it sends the all too familiar message that the New York State Legislature stands ready to find new and different ways to interfere with business and worsen the business climate.
For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and strongly urges that it not be enacted by the New York State Legislature.