Paid sick leave bill passes in Westchester County

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WHITE PLAINS -

The "Earned Sick Leave for Certain Employees" bill was approved by a 12-5 vote Monday night, thereby officially guaranteeing 40 hours of paid sick time to most people who work in the county.

The bill requires companies with five or more employees to provide at least an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.

Prior to the bill, more than 100,000 people in Westchester wouldn’t get paid if they missed a day of work because they're sick.

Workers like bus monitor Viviana Guzman say the difficult choices of staying home or getting paid won't weigh on them anymore, but employers like Peter Menzies say their businesses could suffer because of it.

Some small business owners argue that this bill creates double billing for them that they simply cannot afford. They say not only do you have to pay someone to not be there, but you have to pay someone to come in and cover their shift.

The law that was backed by the legislature's Democratic caucus also calls for domestic workers to earn one hour for every seven days worked.

If a business is found to have violated the law, it could be made to pay three times the amount they would have paid for the sick time.

However, one small business owner in Yonkers tells News 12 he has been giving employees five to six paid sick days a year for the past 15 years. "I think people should have some personal days off, paid if you can afford it, I think it's the right thing to do, it also makes everybody happy," says Rich Angelori, owner of Midway Electric.

Estefany Rosario has worked at Midway Electric for two years and says the policy gives her a sense of security. "It's very helpful. I don't have to be worried that my check will be short, I don't have to have any worries about that."

This bill is the latest of several progressive bills passed this year by the Westchester County legislature, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 13-4.

The progressive agenda reportedly started soon after the Democrats reached a majority in the Legislature, banning gun shows on county property, passing an immigration act and raising the legal age to purchase cigarettes.

Republican Minority Leader John Testa says his entire caucus opposes the sick leave bill because they believe it will do more harm than good.

“It gets to point where small businesses of Westchester are nervous,” he said. “It seems like an assault on them.”

With paid sick leave accomplished, the Democrats are expected to turn their attention to controversial legislation that forbids county employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s criminal background on job applications.

The legislation is expected to go into effect in six months.

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