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Small Businesses Question Whether City Is Moving Too Fast on Paid Sick Leave Legislation

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At a hearing Friday, small businesses questioned whether the City Council is moving too fast on a massive expansion of the city's paid sick time law, making it impossible for thousands of small businesses to comply. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Dan Powers owns the Real Brave Music School in Queens. He employs 14 people. In less than two months, Powers has to figure out how he will afford to pay for their sick time.

"This is something that hasn't been thought about," he said. "I think it's more of a political thing that they're trying to do."

That political thing being a massive expansion of the city's paid sick time law, an expansion that will now affect business owners like Powers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced the expansion last month.

"The goal of this legislation is to help New Yorkers," Mark-Viverito said.

Under the new proposal, on April 1, small businesses with five or more employees would have to start to provide paid sick days.

The original law would have only applied to businesses with 15 or more employees, and that would have been phased in in a two-year period.

Business groups now say some 175,000 small businesses have now been blindsided.

"Our specific concern of the fact that you want to roll this out in 48 days from today," said Nancy Ploeger of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.

"April is around the corner. They're not going to have enough time to educate all those business owners," said Zulay Mateo-Burgos of the Bodega Association.

The city says it is starting outreach to make sure businesses, like Real Brave, can comply.

"The idea here is not to punish businesses. It's to educate them about the benefits of the law and the requirements of the law," said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen.

"I don't think anybody knows about this yet," Powers said.

"I mean, yes, we've been hearing some concerns coming from both advocates and small businesses," Mark-Viverito said. "We're going to have the hearing today, where we're going to capture some of those concerns and see, in discussions with the administration, whether there's any updating that could happen."

Despite concerns from businesses like Real Brave, the City Council is unlikely to make big changes to the legislation and the speaker said that the Council plans to approve it within a month.

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