In the nine months since Mayor Bill de Blasio approved an expansion of the paid-sick-leave law, the city has received 289 complaints of violations. But so far, the city is on track to fine only seven of those potential violators, though probably not until 2015.
Of the 289 complaints, 204 are still being investigated or mediated by the Department of Consumer Affairs, according to a spreadsheet provided by the agency. Seventy-eight complaints have been closed, while seven have either resulted in a hearing at DCA’s adjudication tribunal or are currently awaiting a hearing. That’s up from five businesses that were facing fines in October.
Fines for violating the law, which requires businesses with as few as five employees to provide paid time off for workers who are ill or have ill family members, start at $500 and can rise to $750 and $1,000 for repeat offenders. The amount of money the city is spending to investigate and adjudicate the paid-sick-leave law is unclear, although it seems likely to far exceed what it collects in fines. DCA hired 13 employees this year to help with enforcement.
Of the 78 closed complaints, 59 were resolved with the complaining employee recorded as satisfied. Nine complaints were deemed invalid, while another nine were withdrawn by the employee or because the employee was not located. The 289 complaints do not include others deemed irrelevant to the law.
A majority of the complaints—191—were for employers’ failure to notify workers of the paid-sick-leave law. Ninety-three employees complained of not receiving pay for their time off; 49 complained that their employers did not accrue sick time accurately; 38 claimed retaliation by their employers for taking sick time; and 13 said their employers requested a doctor’s note, which the law does not require.
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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President