Albany County Paid Sick Leave Public Hearing Tonight

The Albany (NY) County Legislature tonight will hold a public hearing on the paid sick leave bill it is considering. That bill entitles covered employees to accrue one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, to an annual maximum of 72 hours for employers with at least ten employees, to lesser amounts for smaller employers. Here are a few issues I would like to see raised tonight.

  1. The bill states that ”[p]assage of this law guaranteeing paid sick time is necessary to ensure that all workers in Albany County” can address their own and their family’s health and safety needs. Yet, the bill does not guarantee any paid sick time to union-represented employees. It allows an employer and union to deny bargaining unit employees all of the benefits and protections of the PSL law by giving them a “comparable benefit,” one example of which is “holiday and Sunday time pay at a premium rate.”  Due to this “comparable benefit fiction” (see post here), union represented employees may still need to decide between their paycheck and their (or their family’s) health.
  2. The bill states that “the Legislature finds and determines that access to paid sick time promotes a healthy and safe county by reducing the spread of illness….” A recent study of the first two years of the New York City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law found that “[f]ully 90 percent of employer respondents reported no change in the number of employees coming to work sick, with equal numbers (five percent) reporting a decrease and an increase.”  Why would the Albany County experience be different?
  3. The bill’s definition of “family member” includes “any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.” Once an employee, perhaps one with attendance issues, invokes this “like family to me” provision, how would an employer question that relationship?
  4. Shouldn’t a part time employee be required to at least try to schedule preventive care and other medical appointments during non-work time? The bill encourages part timers to schedule appointments during work time, even if they only work a day or two weekly.

Will Albany County ultimately pass a PSL bill? The County Executive is a Democrat, the legislature is solidly Democratic and almost 60% of Albany County voters cast their ballots for Secretary Hillary R. Clinton in the last presidential election.   While it is always dangerous to predict legislative outcomes, with this “blue” combination, the stars seem aligned for a PSL bill to pass. The legislature next meets on June 11.