Why Doesn't New York City Government Focus on Real Issues?

Business is hurting. New Yorkers are hurting. Why is the city pushing more anti-job regulations?

Business owners in New York City have plenty of real issues to worry about - global competition to America’s soft economy, high rents, and astronomical 50% taxes for entrepreneurs who live in the great Borough of Manhattan, and so much more.  There are real issues which business owners in NYC – and anywhere – need to be concerned with as I know first hand as founder of a PR firm.

For many, Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to rid NYC of sugary drinks larger than 16-ounce portions was ridiculous. Now, comes something more ridiculous – which is actually dangerous for business - the NYC City Council has a “proposed paid-sick-days law.”

Under the proposed bill, the NYC Department of Health (DOH) would require small businesses to give their employees at least five sick days a year.  Business would be required, upon demand, to turn over their employment records to DOH investigators.  Imagine the shock of a consulting firm or foreign bank if the “Department of Health” knocked at their door? Sounds like a communist country or a bad drama movie. Indeed, if this bill passes that will be the fate of many New York business owners.

As if business owners don’t have enough to worry about, under this proposed law they’ll need to give multilingual written notice to all employees and post similar posters in a visible place in the office. If the Department of Health finds that an employer fired a worker for calling in sick too many times, they have the right to be compensated for at least $5,000 as well as receive benefits —"including reinstatement and promotion." Has all of New York State gone union and forgotten to notify us? Forced reinstatement and promotion?

Imagine staffers in President Obama’s office feign sickness the day of the State of the Union and other very busy days.  Will they be given promotions for not showing up? Employees will also be able to accumulate unused paid sick days into future years.

Naturally, the proposed rules don’t require employees to provide much besides their word.  An employer may not demand a physician's note until the third day out – and of course, the employer cannot withhold pay if the worker fails to produce even such minimal documentation. Of course, then some other government office will come knocking.

Employees shouldn’t be taken advantage of – but nor should employers.  In America, people have the right to quit their jobs if not treated well. I have lived and worked in New York City my whole life. My mother raised my sister and I and never took a sick day because she needed to provide for us.  She didn’t take a vacation in 10 years – because the bills don’t stop coming and she wanted to advance at work.

From the age of 12, I worked in a local pizzeria for an Italian immigrant who worked 80 hours a week to put his kids through school – he didn’t take sick days.  There’s nothing wrong with being sick – but there’s also nothing which requires the law to mandate employers to offer sick days.  People always have the right to quit their jobs if they aren’t happy.  Why is this something government needs to be involved with?

For a state which already ranks at the very bottom of the “Small Business Survival Index” this is more activity that is bad for business. The Tax Foundation, a non-partisan Washington, D.C. tax research group ranked New York State as the worst place in the nation for establishing a business based on taxes. This move will damage business owners who already pay high taxes, and have to deal with strict regulations.

As owner of a white-collar PR agency which employs over 100 people in the heart of Manhattan, all our employees receive 2 weeks vacation, and a mixture of 5 sick/personal days.  They also receive many other holidays, federal and otherwise, like the day after Christmas, etc.  We treat them well and thankfully people stay a long time.  This bill won’t affect us – and at my business like any other, people unfortunately sometimes do quit.  But we treat them well, and it’s none of the governments business, as indeed people do have choices.

Building a small business in the once great city of New York has never been harder than today.  Absurd government regulations seek to tell entrepreneurs what to do.  The role of a business owner is to create wealth and jobs.  Entrepreneurs drive the economy and the global marketplace – they create jobs and so much more.

It is already hard enough to build a business – the government shouldn’t make it harder. It would be nice, if just once, business was helped and not hurt by government. Businesses in America aren’t the bad guys – don’t keep punishing and hurting business.  It harms the economy – and the people.

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