New Sick Leave Bill Could Shift Enforcement

January 24, 2014 – In The News
Crain’s New York Business

Carolyn Richmond was quoted in the Crain’s New York Business article “New Sick Leave Bill Could Shift Enforcement.” While the full text can be found in the January 24, 2014, issue of Crain’s New York Business, a synopsis is noted below.

A passage in a new bill to expand New York City’s paid sick leave mandate could have a big impact on small businesses. The new bill states that “the mayor may designate an agency other than the department [of Consumer Affairs] to enforce the provisions” of the mandate.

New York City does not have a labor department that would naturally enforce the paid sick leave bill. The city Department of Consumer Affairs protects shoppers, not employees – an entirely different responsibility, according to Richmond.

“Consumer complaints are very different from dealing with complaints in the workforce,” said Richmond.

If Consumer Affairs doesn’t prove to be a good enforcer of the law, it is unclear what agency would be better. Creating a Department of Labor would likely require a change in the City Charter, according to Richmond. The New York City Commission on Human Rights, which enforces civil rights laws, would be equipped to handle such work, she said, but is already overburdened.

The 2013 paid sick leave legislation mandating that businesses with 20 or more employees offer five days of annuals sick time is set to take effect April 1, as would the new one applying to businesses with five or more employees; that bill is expected to move quickly through the council. Richmond said many of her clients were confused about how they would comply with the current law, because regulations have not yet been issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs.