Paid Sick Leave Bill Backed By Christine Quinn In Deal That Will Cover 1 Million New Yorkers

FILE - In this March 10, 2013 file photo, surrounded by family and supporters, New York City Council speaker and mayoral hope
FILE - In this March 10, 2013 file photo, surrounded by family and supporters, New York City Council speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn, center, announces her mayoral run in New York, Sunday, March 10, 2013. Quinn, who is a lesbian, won't be marching in Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Her rising political prominence is bringing a decades-long dispute between parade organizers and gay activists back into sharp relief. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

By Julie Shapiro and Jill Colvin

NEW YORK — Council Speaker Christine Quinn has thrown her support behind the long-controversial paid sick leave bill, cutting a deal Thursday that clears the way to cover 1 million New Yorkers by 2015.

The bill — which has enough votes to pass the City Council and override Mayor Michael Bloomberg's likely veto — would require companies of 20 employees or more to provide five paid sick days to workers each year, starting in April 2014.

The coverage would expand in April 2015 to include businesses of 15 employees or more.

The deal will cover an estimated 1 million New Yorkers by 2015, officials said.

Quinn had previously shelved the paid sick leave bill, saying she was torn between wanting to support the workers and unions who were pushing for it and the business owners who were opposing it. 

"Today, we have an agreement in principle on a bill that will provide New Yorkers with access to paid sick days and, at the same time, exempt small businesses that are least able to provide this benefit," Quinn said in a statement.

"We have a good, strong, and sensible piece of legislation that recognizes the needs of everyday New Yorkers and the realities that our struggling small businesses face."

The bill does not apply to seasonal workers, work-study students and those who have worked at a job for less than four months, but it does cover part-time workers, Quinn's office said.

Those businesses that are not required to provide paid sick leave under the bill would have to provide unpaid sick leave instead, officials said.

The Department of Consumer Affairs will enforce the measure. The originally proposed fines of $1,000 to $5,000 were reduced to $500 to $2,500 under the deal negotiated by Quinn.

Advocates for paid sick leave hailed the deal as a hard-fought victory.

"After years of non-stop advocacy and coalition building, I am pleased and grateful that we have reached a deal," City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who sponsored the paid sick leave bill, said in a statement.

"One million New Yorkers will now have the fundamental right to take a paid day off when they or a family member is ill, and no worker will be fired if they must stay home." 

Even some of those who had opposed paid sick leave legislation, including Kathy Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, praised Quinn's announcement as a compromise.

"The framework that Speaker Quinn is proposing appears to be a substantial improvement over previous versions of the legislation," Wylde said in a statement.