Torassian: NYC's Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Is Anti-Capitalist

Monday, 20 Jan 2014 12:29 PM

By Ronn Torossian

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One of the first moves of New York City's new uber-liberal mayor with a "progressive" New York City Council speaker has been the decision to expand the reach of a new sick-leave law, resulting in laws that are bad for business.

The old Frank Sinatra song "New York, New York," with its lyrics "If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere," may not have envisioned an NYC under President Barack Obama, where Mayor Bill de Blasio can take advantage of the anti-capitalist sentiment and go even farther to the left. It ain't gonna be easy.

On Friday, the mayor announced that a paid-sick-day law will require businesses with as few as five employees to provide at least five paid sick days a year. Why doesn't someone ask Korean deli owners, or Italian pizzeria owners, or hard-working people of any race in this great city, what they have to say about this unfair law? Who will help small-business owners if they cannot make payroll? Why take from those who work hard constantly?

For a state that already ranks at the very bottom of the "Small Business Survival Index," this is simply bad for business, and the finances of this city. The Tax Foundation, a non-partisan Washington, D.C., tax research group, ranked New York as the worst state in the nation — and this decision is simply anti-capitalist.

More than a third of New York City's businesses will be affected, and one wonders why entrepreneurs should be penalized for starting their own businesses. Small-business owners don't get paid if they don't go to work, so why should restaurants who pay workers by the hour need to pay double for shifts that need to be covered because someone doesn't show up? Does the boss get paid if he doesn't show up?

The bill further proposes draconian measures requiring businesses, upon demand, to turn over employment records to New York City Department of Health investigators. The concept, frankly, is sickening in this great republic.

Business owners will now need to provide multilingual written notice to all employees and post similar notices in a visible place in the office. If the Department of Health finds that an employer fired a worker for calling in sick too many times, the worker has the right to be compensated for at least $5,000 as well as receive benefits — "including reinstatement and promotion."

Seems New York is mandating unions — forced reinstatement and promotion? Where is my guaranteed promotion? And employees are not required to provide a physician's note until the third day out — and the employer cannot withhold pay if the worker fails to produce even such minimal documentation.

Employees shouldn't be taken advantage of — but nor should employers. As a born and bred New Yorker, I worked from the age of 12 in a local pizzeria for an Italian immigrant who worked 80 hours a week to put his kids through school. He didn't take sick days.

There's nothing wrong with being sick, but there's also nothing that requires the law to mandate employers to offer sick days. People always have the right to quit their jobs if they aren't happy.

As owner of a public relations agency that employs more than 100 people, our employees receive two weeks' vacation, and a mixture of five sick/personal days. They also receive many other holidays, federal and otherwise, such as the day after Christmas. This bill won't affect us directly, but as a small-business owner, I realize that harming other small businesses is bad for the economy.

Building a small business in the once-great city of New York has never been harder than today. Absurd government regulations seek to tell entrepreneurs what to do. The role of a business owner is to create wealth and jobs. Entrepreneurs drive the economy and the global marketplace: they create jobs and so much more.

In New York City, people who make more than $250K already pay more than 50 percent in taxes — and it is even more when adding in Medicare, unemployment, commercial taxes and more taxes. And that's before de Blasio continues to enact his agenda. It is already hard enough to build a business; the government shouldn't make it harder. It would be nice if business were helped and not hurt by government.

Obama and de Blasio should realize that business owners aren't the bad guys, and by harming business they harm the economy — and the people who do the most for the economy. Of course, entrepreneurs remember the scariest words Ronald Reagan said an entrepreneur can ever hear: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

P.S.: Leave New York before you die from hard work, because if you die in New York state, the death tax will ensure your family will owe more than in nearly any other state.

Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur and author.

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