First it was Portland, Oregon on March 13th. Then Philadelphia on the 14th. And just last night, Council members in New York City settled on a compromise to make the Big Apple the latest U.S. city – and the third this month – to pass a minimum standard for paid sick days.
Passage of paid sick days in these three cities, with a combined population of more than 10 million, is a big lift for public health, workers, families, and businesses who depend on healthy employees. Paid sick days standards have now been passed in six U.S. cities, Washington, D.C., and the state of Connecticut.
The Portland law applies to workers in businesses with 6 or more employees, allowing them to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. The Philadelphia law, which has yet to be signed by Mayor Michael Nutter, allows workers in businesses with 6 or more to accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked. The New York City law, which won’t take effect until April 2014, will only apply to businesses with 20 or more employees.
Paid sick days ensure workers can take responsibility for themselves or their families when sick, or to take time away from work to deal with the effects of domestic violence or stalking. All three of the laws passed this March guarantee an employee’s earned sick time can also be used for preventive care, to care sick children or elderly parents, or in the case of domestic violence.
As more cities and states pass paid sick days provisions, the pressure is mounting on Congress to pass a nation-wide paid sick days standard that protects all American workers. The Healthy Families Act, introduced earlier this month by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), would do just that, allowing workers to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave, or one hour for every 30 hours worked.