By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, called on the City Council Mayor Bill de Blasio to create a new post within the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs to help owners of mom and pop businesses.
Scissura, who said the chamber has hundreds of small business owners on its membership roster, said he would like to see the creation of a small business ombudsman in city government.
Scissura spoke out in the wake of a move by the council on Feb. 20 to amend a recently passed law mandating business owners to provide five days of paid sick leave for workers. The new law, which the council approved earlier this month, takes effect April 1. Under the amendment, owners of businesses with 5 to 19 employees will be given a six-month “grace period” to comply with the new law.
Scissura said that while he is pleased with the amendment, he believes the city should be doing more for small business owners.
"We are pleased that the New York City Council has listened to the voices of small business and amended the paid sick leave legislation to include a six month ‘cure period' during which businesses with 5-19 employees would not be penalized for unintentionally violating the new law. This makes good business sense as this ‘cure period’ will allow for smaller businesses to comply with the new mandate, and ensures businesses will have ample time to learn about compliance,” he said in a statement.
“While these are steps in the right direction we continue to urge the City Council and the mayor to create a small business ombudsmen unit at the Department of Consumer Affairs to work with business to ensure they have a voice in the agency that is to regulate compliance," Scissura stated.
The amendment and the six month grace period were enthusiastically received in the business community. “It is encouraging that the de Blasio Administration and the City Council listened to some of the concerns of small business in the paid sick leave expansion,” said Victor Wong, director of business outreach for GoBizNYC, the small business initiative of the Partnership for New York City.
“By providing a cure period during the law’s first six months, the city is ensuring that small businesses have time to learn how to properly comply rather than being blindsided with fines starting April 1,” Wong said.
The chief concern about the new law was that the April 1 implementation date would mean that city's 175,000 newly-covered businesses would have inadequate time to prepare, according to GoBizNYC.
GoBizNYC represents over 25,000 small businesses across the five boroughs.