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New Yorkers give final input on paid sick leave bill

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio attends

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio attends St. Patrick's Day Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral on March 17, 2014. The mayor did not march in the parade because organizers refuse to let participants carry pro-gay signs. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor Bill de Blasio received some final input Monday from New Yorkers on the bill that's slated to provide mandatory, paid sick leave to a half-million workers.

About 20 people showed up to the City Hall hearing on the legislation, which will require businesses with five or more employees to give them at least five paid sick days.

Many thanked the mayor for extending the provisions of the law to include smaller businesses with a revision last month. De Blasio, who will sign the bill later this week, said it is an important step in curbing the city's inequality problem.

"Forty-Six percent of our city is at or near the poverty level, they don't have a day's pay to give away. They don't have a week's pay to give away," he said.

The law is slated to go into effect April 1 but businesses will have a six-month grace period before they are penalized for not adhering to the rules.

One commenter at the hearing, Khristan Heagle, an attorney whose firm represents various small businesses, said although her clients didn't have an issue with the bill, they wanted morespecifics. Her clients had questions about how the rules affect small business employees work outside the city a few days a week.

A spokeswoman for the mayor's office said they will put out more details about the intricacies of the law after it is signed. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who first introduced the bill in 2009, said there will be an extensive outreach effort to educate businesses, similar to San Francisco's approach after it mandated paid sick leave.

"Every other city said when the employers and employees are educated . . . there are no problems," Brewer said.

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