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Editor at Large

Unhealthy precedent in New York

- Last modified: January 30, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Govern-mint: All it does is print money and put us further in debt.

Well, it does something else, too, and that is to meddle in the marketplace.

Those words are a bit harsh, to be sure, because government does wonderful things, too.

But what's happening in New York City is chilling. New Mayor Bill de Blasio wants small businesses in his city to be required to offer paid sick leave to employees.

Specifically, he wants employers with five or more workers to offer paid sick leave to employees working 30 or more hours a week. The workers would be eligible to earn as many as five paid sick days a year.

The existing threshold for an employer to provide paid sick leave in New York City is to have 20 or more employers – a reasonable standard.

However, lowering the cutoff to five employees could cause undue hardship to small businesses – many already struggling to survive.

According to Bloomberg News, the National Restaurant Association and other business groups oppose de Blasio's proposal. It could stifle job creation and, it should be noted, even cause employers to reduce worker hours to 29 or fewer hours a week. That way, those workers would not fall under the new sick-day regulation.

In other words, a plan intended to help workers could end up hurting them. (We've heard that about Obamacare, too.)

Sick-day policy is another area where government need not get involved. Let the market decide the sick-day rules for small businesses – who need to watch every dollar.

Good workers will gravitate to employers that offer paid time off. Small businesses, in turn, then might have to offer such a benefit to retain good workers. It's how the free marketplace works.

Meanwhile, big government should remain on the sidelines as much as possible when it comes to small businesses. It's tough enough out there paying the bills, servicing clients and meeting payroll every week.

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