Tag Archives: Bill de Blasio

No Fines for Sick-Leave Complaints

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 Nine complaints were deemed invalid, while another nine were withdrawn by the employee or because the employee was not located.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

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

Mayor de Blasio Incentives Unions to Reduce Health Costs

When Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his first labor agreements with New York City unions this spring, he was sharply criticized for granting long-awaited wage increases in exchange for promises of unspecified though sizable savings on health care expenses.

Now, some of the specifics are coming into focus: City officials and union leaders say they hope to push municipal workers to use walk-in clinics more and emergency rooms less, order generic drugs more often than brand-name ones, and buy them through the mail rather than at retail pharmacies to achieve bulk discounts.

The city hopes the unions will agree to steer workers to use centralized, cheaper centers for blood tests, X-rays or M.R.I.s, rather than having those tests performed in doctors’ offices or at costly physician-owned facilities. Patients who resist could face higher copayments, while savings would be passed on to the city in lower premiums.

The cost-cutting comes with high stakes: If the city and unions are unable to save a total of $3.4 billion on health care by 2018, a mediator will be empowered to order increases in workers’ premiums to cover the shortfall, officials said.

As an added inducement, if the unions help the city exceed that goal, the first $365 million in additional savings would be distributed as lump-sum bonuses to workers, officials said. Any savings beyond that would be split evenly between the city and its employees.

In interviews, Harry Nespoli, chairman of the Municipal Labor Committee, the umbrella group of city unions, and Robert W. Linn, the city’s labor relations commissioner, disclosed several of the cost-saving measures being discussed as the two sides draw closer to a deal.

For example, union officials are meeting with EmblemHealth, an insurer that covers many municipal union members, to negotiate increased access for employees to EmblemHealth’s more than 40 walk-in clinics across the city.

Arrangements like that could reduce costly emergency-room visits not only for the city’s 350,000 workers but also for their dependents — a total of about one million people, the officials said.

Missing from the labor contracts with teachers and other city workers that were announced beginning in May was any requirement for union members to begin contributing toward their health insurance premiums. That prompted some critics to say Mr. de Blasio was not being tough enough at the bargaining table.

Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the unions representing 5,400 Long Island Rail Road employees agreed that those workers would begin paying 2 percent of their wages toward their health coverage.

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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary