Chinese Businesses Wary of Future With Paid Sick Leave

Chinatown small business owners voiced concerns over paid sick leave bill. (Photo by Adam Fagen, Flickr Creative Commons License)

The City Council reached an agreement last week that would mandate businesses of 20 or more people to give employees paid sick leave. For years, Council Speaker Christine Quinn refused to bring the bill to a vote citing concerns that it could hurt small businesses. After recent negotiations however, the mayoral candidate has agreed to the compromise.

In an article published prior to the decision, World Journal reporter Luna Liu spoke to Chinese small business owners, who voiced similar worries. They opposed a mandated on paid sick leave, saying it would add an extra burden for small businesses and make it more difficult to generate a profit.

Song Cheng, who owns a restaurant and a kitchen equipment company, has dozens of employees.  He believes that paid sick days benefit employees, but hurt business owners because it would mean “doubling wages.”  He laments that due to rent, taxes, inflation, and wage increases, expenses for small business owners are already burdensome.

“If the bill is passed, then the burden would be even greater,” he said.

Youn Chang, who employs about 100 people in his money transfer business said that sick leave could easily be faked, something beyond the owner’s control. “The bill would not be easy to implement,” he said.

Mr. Liu, who owns a restaurant, said that the Chinese restaurant business has already experienced vicious competition when it comes to cutting down prices.

“We already sell dim sum for $1 or $2.  The profit margin is slim as it is,” he said. If the bill passes, it would put further strain on restaurants.  Many owners also worry that this law may push people to start a business in other states, rather than staying in New York.

The two Chinese-American members of the City Council differ in their opinion on paid sick leave.

Councilwoman Margaret Chin pointed out that the nine paid sick days include personal days. Many businesses in Chinatown already have such a policy in place. The bill would only push businesses, those which don’t offer such benefits, to change their policies. If employees feel good coming to work, it would strengthen their performance.

Councilman Peter Koo worries that many small businesses would not be able to afford to pay for the benefit.

The paid sick leave legislation will go into effect April 1, 2014 and will mandate companies with 20 or more employees to give them five paid sick days per year, eventually becoming a requirement for businesses with at least 15 employees, Gay City News reports. All businesses must provide at least unpaid sick leave.

The original bill, proposed by Councilwoman Gale Brewer, would have require paid sick leave for businesses with at least five employees. While Mayor Michael Bloomberg continues to oppose paid sick leave, the City Council will likely override the Mayor’s expected veto on the legislation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *