Corey Johnson buys a clue about the city’s small businesses

New York has hit small businesses so hard even progressive City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s reluctant to hit them again with a paid-time-off law.

If payroll and other costs are going up, he asks, “how are we going to [pass a paid-vacation law] in a way that’s not going to adversely affect small businesses?”

Hello? It’s pols like him, and in the state Legislature, who’ve steadily piled on mandates for businesses, driving up costs. Critics who understand that businesses provide vital services, jobs and tax revenue have long urged them to cool it.

Over the past few years alone, New York businesses have been forced to offer paid family leave, paid sick leave, a $15 minimum wage and mountains of other burdensome regulations. Not only do these regs drive up costs; they also make it tough to schedule employee work hours.

Paid time off would “inflict severe financial harm on small businesses,” New York State Restaurant Association CEO Melissa Autilio Fleischut wrote on these pages in June. “Many restaurants and service-industry businesses will find it impossible” to handle the scheduling burdens.

The extra costs and burdens don’t just hurt owners; workers, whose overall pay and hours may suffer, and customers, who might face higher prices, get socked, too.

Johnson’s hesitation is a good sign. Yet it’s not clear he fully gets the problem: “Bigger businesses could figure out a way to absorb” the costs of paid time off, he says.

Memo to Johnson: Big and small businesses wouldn’t be the only ones to suffer.

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