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NYC Deal Is Key In Sick Days Push, Advocates Say

But critics â¿¿ including New York's billionaire businessman-turned-mayor â¿¿ say government should leave sick time arrangements to workers and bosses. The requirement could hamper small businesses and hinder job growth while unemployment remains high, opponents say.

"The bill is short-sighted economic policy that will take our city in the wrong direction," Bloomberg said in a statement Friday. (He noted this week that his own company, the financial information giant Bloomberg LP, offers the benefit.)

Businesses with 20 or more employees would have to provide five paid sick days a year beginning in April 2014. Enterprises with 15 or more workers would have to do the same by October 2015. All others would have to provide five unpaid sick days per year, a provision advocates call a significant protection for an estimated 300,000 workers against getting fired for calling in sick.

A vote is expected next month.

Luis Gonzalez can't count the number of times he's gone to work with the flu, colds and other ailments during 11 years of working construction jobs around the city.

"I have no choice but to work" because of not having sick days, Gonzalez, 33, said through a Spanish interpreter. He's originally from Azogues, Ecuador.

But some businesses that don't offer sick days say they have other ways for employees to stay home when they need to.

The Rockaway Seafood Company's roughly 20 employees swap shifts if they're ill â¿¿ or they did before Superstorm Sandy devastated the still-closed eatery, co-owner Chris Miles said. Shift-switching may be an allowable alternative under the upcoming law.

If not, "if and when we do get back open, here we are going to have to lay out extra money for something that has never really been an issue," Miles said.

After stalling in the City Council for about three years, Councilwoman Gale Brewer's proposal was energized this year from an unusually sharp flu season and the race to succeed Bloomberg next year.

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