Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sick Pay Bill

Bronx Chamber Logo
 (This comes from The Bronx Chamber of Commerce) 

The City Council will hear testimony on the Sick Pay Bill this Friday.  This will probably be your last chance to call your Council-member to urge him/her to withhold support until the bill is redrafted in a manner that is less destructive to businesses.  The following is yesterday's article in Crains New York Business:

Meet the sick-days police
Gulp: The city's Department of Health would audit businesses.
Crain's Published: March 18, 2013

Been incorporated as a business here for all of 12 months? Congratulations. You must now comply. Multilingual written notice must be given to all employees and similarly worded posters displayed. Personnel manuals and orientation materials must reflect the many provisions of the new law, which include rules governing the swapping of shifts to cover for last-minute employee absences and the accumulation of unused paid sick days into future years.

Interestingly, the sick employee must provide little beyond his or her word. An employer may not demand a physician's note until the third day out. Even then, the note need not specify the nature of an employee's or family member's claimed illness or condition. Naturally, the employer cannot withhold pay or deny the sick days if the worker fails to produce even such minimal documentation.

A fired employee who persuades a DOH-approved tribunal that he or she was wronged by the employer who dared dismiss a ne'er-do-well for abusing the newly prescribed right to call in sick five times a year without a moment's warning, well, he or she can be awarded at least $5,000 and other relief - "including reinstatement and promotion."

Family shop or Fortune 500 HQ, it matters not: The bureaucrats who brought you the beverage ban would have the power to subpoena and examine your employment records. Has anyone outside a union hall actually read this law? Better take a big gulp. DOH investigators can show up at your store or office demanding a compliance audit with no more evidence than a claim of wrongdoing by a kvetcher whose identity you may never learn. Woe to the business that does not have three years' worth of paperwork documenting the hours worked and sick time accrued and taken by each employee-full-time, part-time or even seasonal. Under this law, failure to maintain proper records is presumed to be evidence of a violation. First violation: $1,000. A second violation within the next five years: at least $2,000.

You may have heard something in the news last week about a modest initiative from the New York City Department of Health that called for limiting sales of sugary drinks to 16-ounce portions. Well, guess which city agency would be responsible for enforcing the City Council's proposed paid-sick-days law? That's right: the DOH, which under the latest rewrite of the sick-days legislation is given incredible policing powers over any city business with five or more employees. 

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