Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Lord Giveth and....

This week the city council passed a much needed relief bill for small business. As Crain's reports: "Today was a better day to do business in New York City than yesterday.This afternoon, the City Council unanimously voted in favor of creating a business owner’s bill of rights that would advise companies in writing of their rights during a city inspection. The bill was introduced March 25 and sped through the City Council with the support of both City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg."

The bill gives a bit more due process protection to retailers in the face of the city's onerous regulatory regime: "At the same time, however, two other more nefarious bills were wending their way through the council-and they could really put a big bite on the city's small stores: "The ease with which the business-friendly bill passed contrasted to the opposition two controversial bills faced yesterday. Tuesday morning, the City Council heard testimony on a prevailing wage bill then met again to consider a law requiring businesses to provide paid sick days to employees. The strong opposition by business was countered by an equally large show of support from workers and their advocates."

The sick leave bill, in particular, could lead to business loss and a reduction in the number of employees that small firms could afford-as a NY Post editorial underscored the other day: "New Yorkers expect their pols to try to raise taxes and kill jobs -- but does the City Council have to be so . . . tacky about it? At a time when one in every 10 city residents is looking for work, a council committee yesterday took up a bill that would force businesses to give employees up to two more weeks a year of paid leave -- and, sure as night follows day, to raise prices, lay off workers or both. Specifically, the bill would mandate nine days of paid "sick" leave for all employees of companies with a total workforce of at least 20 people. Smaller businesses would have to give five days."

With unemployment at 10% in the city, isn't it an inopportune time to increase business costs? After all, a job without paid sick leave is still gainful employment, and many smaller companies can't afford to treat workers as if they worked for the Greek government: "According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study cited by the sick-leave bill's proponents, such benefits typically cost around 23 cents per worker-hour -- a tough margin for businesses already struggling in Gotham's stifling climate. So while the measure's supporters tug heartstrings with tales of workers getting fired because they're sick, the bill they want would actually mean more layoffs -- and fewer workers hired in the first place."

So, while it is great to seek to reduce regulatory red tape, it is the mandates and tax burden that really sends small firms reeling-right out of town. And where is the economic impact study for the sick leave bill? We'll give the Post the last word on this: "Again, the city's unemployment rate stands at exactly 10 percent -- higher than even the national rate of 9.9 percent. New York simply can't afford to lose more jobs."