Marc Murphy on Sick Leave, DOH Letter Grades: ‘We’re All Going to Be Closed’

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Landmarc’s Marc Murphy has been quite outspoken about his opposition to the city’s proposed mandatory paid sick leave for restaurant workers (and other industries), so when we ran into him at last night’s CCAP Benefit at Pier 60, we asked if he’d had any backlash.

“Yeah, I’ve had some criticism. (I’m almost calling it the Hangover/‘I’m Sick’ Leave Day.) But I’m not just standing up for myself. As the vice-president of the New York chapter of the Restaurant Association, I’m speaking for, I think, all the restaurants in New York City. We’re all struggling right now. If they keep coming at us looking for another dollar, it’s just not going to work.” Murphy is so passionate about the issue that he followed up today with an e-mail outlining his primary arguments. We’re reprinting it here because it’s the most coherent argument so far that a restaurateur has presented against the bill.

1-This bill is being sold as a sick leave bill and as a moral issue, ie.workers should have the right to take off from work when sick and get paid. This is a three card monty scheme. It is NOT limited to employees being sick no matter what is says in that employees can take 1 or 2 days off at a time and it will be illegal to require any documentation to support the illness claim. So in other words, this is a paid personal time time off bill, having nothing to do with employee illness.

2-The business community uniformly supports the right of all workers to stay home if they are sick without any fear of employer retribution. If the current laws are not strong enough to guarantee this, lets work together on that. But PAID time off is another matter. If this really is the moral issue that the advocates claim it is, then this new government mandated social policy should be paid for like all others such as unemployment insurance, worker's compensation, disability ... not with a 100% employer funded requirement, but with all parties paying its fair share ... government, workers and employers. When an employee gets hurt and cannot work, the employer doesn't pay his salary, a government insurance program does, one in which everyone contributes to. This should be the same. And if the government doesn't have the money in this economy, clearly neither does the business community.

3-Unlike all other pieces of legislation that designates a city agency to enforce the law, this bill is somewhat unique in that it provides for a private cause of action for disgruntled employees to bring private lawsuits under the law claiming they were wronged. This will cause an explosion in lawsuits against employers, including class actions. That means huge legal fees just to fight them. This law, if passed, should be enforced just like any other law is enforced, by the government agency responsible for it, period.

4-As to the specifics of the bill, if we were to look for changes around the edges, then:

a) the number of days off (9 for most employers) should be reduced to the national average for number of days people take off from work due to illness ... which is 4.

b) Any paid time off that employers currently provide ... whether it be called vacation, holidays, personal or sick ... should be credited to this law's requirements.

c) individuals that work for a combination of wages and tips (waiters, etc) should not be covered by this law, just as they were excluded in the Washington, DC law, as it makes no sense. These workers will likely make up the lost shift, so they do not need to be paid for that shift ... it will not be lost. Same for part time workers.

Of course, Murphy has also spoken out about DOH letter grades. He’ll lead a group of restaurateurs protesting that initiative when the DOH announces its plans Tuesday, March 16. “It’s a game of gotcha,” he told us of the letter grades. “If we just lie down and take this, we’re all going to be closed.”