The New York City Council – in spite of opposition from Mayor Michael Bloomberg – enacted the Earned Sick Time Act earlier this month, ensuring the majority of people working in New York City are able to earn paid sick days.
The bill, which passed by a vote of 45-3 thus overriding a mayoral veto, came as a result of a compromise between business and union leaders.
Once fully enacted, people working for businesses with 15 or more employees will be able to earn paid sick leave. Those working for smaller firms will be entitled to job-protected leave when they are sick, but it will not be paid. In addition, the bill exempts manufacturing businesses and “allows for the regulation to be postponed if the city’s economy worsens.”
Under the law, employees will accrue one hour of paid time off for every 30 hours worked, up to five days per year. It’s estimated the law it will cover 1 million workers, substantially improving their working conditions and quality of life. New York City – the nation’s largest metropolis – now joins Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and the state of Connecticut in requiring a minimum standard for paid sick leave.
New York union leaders, who were satisfied with the bill, said to The New York Times they “will continue to push for coverage of all size employers to create a level-playing field.” Seattle, for instance, has a lower employee threshold – five or more employees, with exceptions.
The bill passed with support from Democratic Council speaker Christine C. Quinn, who blocked a vote on the paid sick leave bill for more than a year despite a poll last year showing 83% of New Yorkers supported it. Quinn’s reversal is likely tied to her mayoral run, in which she will need the support of labor unions and workers who were miffed by her long-standing opposition to the bill. Among other challengers, Quinn will face Public Advocate Bill De Blasio in her mayoral primary, who has roundly criticized her opposition to the paid sick days bill.
The paid sick leave law will take effect in New York City next April.
By EOI Intern Bill Dow