Rupert Murdoch: Paid Sick Leave Rules Will Kill Small Businesses

Rupert Murdoch doesn’t care if you’re feeling under the weather.

The billionaire head of News Corp. on Sunday came out against a proposed New York City law that would force some local businesses to grant employees more paid sick time. Murdoch criticized The New York Times on Twitter for a Sunday editorial in favor of the city proposal, which would affect more than 1.2 million workers.

Here are two of the tweets:

Murdoch’s sentiment echoes that of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has refused to bring the paid sick leave bill to a vote until the economy improves. She's argued that struggling small companies can’t bear the cost of guaranteed paid sick days.

The proposed legislation would require companies with 20 or more workers to give each employee nine paid sick days a year and companies with 5 to 19 workers to offer five sick days.

“With the current state of the economy and so many businesses struggling to stay alive, I do not believe it would be wise to implement this policy, in this way, at this time,” Quinn said in a statement provided to Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

A 2010 report from the Partnership for New York City, an investment fund representing the city’s largest employers, estimated that paid sick leave could cost businesses nearly $800 million annually.

But advocates for the bill say such requirements are badly needed because their absence disproportionately harms women -- especially those in low-wage industries. Female workers are often forced to take time off to care for a sick child. And while white-collar workers typically receive pay for days outside the office, employees in low-wage industries are frequently not paid or fired for their absences.

Proponents of the measure argue that paid sick leave delivers economic benefits in the form of increased worker productivity and fewer workplace injuries. Believing that such benefits outweigh increased compensation costs, some small companies have even started offering unlimited vacation policies.

At least 36 of 50 New York City council members support the proposed bill, The New York Times’ editorial said. San Francisco, Seattle and Washington all have similar legislation, and Connecticut passed a statewide law last year. Rules requiring companies to offer paid sick leave also exist in more than 145 countries, according to one McGill University report.

Already, Murdoch’s comments have drawn the ire of some Twitter users. Actress Susan Sarandon saw a similar backlash last month when she declared via Twitter her support for Quinn, who is running for mayor.

Proponents of the sick leave rules called Sarandon out, prompting her to announce via Twitter that she will urge Quinn to support the legislation. In that tweet, Sarandon cited a 2011 San Francisco study that found six of seven employers reported paid sick leave had no negative effect on profitability.

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