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Mayor de Blasio Signs Paid Sick Leave Bill into Law in New York City

March 20, 2014

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New legislation secures the right to paid sick leave for 500,000 more New Yorkers

Mayor reaffirms his commitment to create ‘One City,’ lift up more working families

NEW YORK—Signing his first bill into law as Mayor, Mayor Bill de Blasio today approved sweeping paid sick leave legislation, extending the right to paid sick leave to half a million more New Yorkers. The law is one of the first in a slate of reforms aimed at raising the wage and benefit floor for more New Yorkers and reducing income inequality in New York City. 

In January—17 days after taking office—the Mayor put forward paid sick leave legislation that expanded this right to more New Yorkers – including 200,000 of whom do not currently have any paid sick days. The law will take effect on April 1 and apply to all workers at businesses with five or more employees, encompassing those excluded under the previous legislation that applied to businesses with 15 or more workers.

“From Day One of this administration, we’ve made it our mission to lift up working families and raise the wage and benefit floor for all New Yorkers. This law is the first of many steps we are taking to fundamentally address inequality in this city, and make this a city where everyone rises together. Today is truly a historic day that takes us one step closer toward that goal,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I want to thank City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her extraordinary leadership in fighting to ensure that half a million more New Yorkers get paid sick leave coverage, all the City Council members who co-sponsored the bill, and every advocate who stood by us and worked tirelessly to make today a reality. We could not have done this without you. You have my deepest gratitude and the appreciation of all the working families that can now rest assured that in this city, they will not have to choose between taking a sick day and earning a paycheck.”

“This is a good day for thousands of working New Yorkers who have never had paid sick days before – no parent will have to choose between caring for a child and putting food on the table. Expanding the Earned Sick Time Act is the right thing to do, and this bill signing is proof of what can be achieved when government works for the people,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

New York City now joins jurisdictions like Connecticut, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Washington, D.C., and other cities across the country offering its workers paid sick leave benefits.

The paid sick leave law also builds upon and expands on previous legislation by:

  • Eliminating the phase-in, which would have delayed coverage to workers at businesses between 15 and 20 workers. This means 140,000 people who would have waited until mid-2015 under the existing bill will have coverage this April. Eighty-five thousand of those workers do not currently have a single paid sick day.
  • Removing exemptions for the manufacturing sector, extending paid sick leave coverage to 76,000 workers, half of whom don’t currently have any paid sick days.
  • Adding grandparents, grandchildren and siblings to the definition of family members workers can legally care for using paid sick time.
  • Eliminating the economic trigger that could have delayed implementation of paid sick leave based on certain economic benchmarks.

“This is a great day for New York. Expanding paid sick leave makes for a healthier city. Since laws are only effective if those they govern understand their rights and responsibilities, I look forward to an active role in educating both workers and employers. Thanks to the Mayor, Council Speaker, City Council, and countless workers and activists for their vision and commitment to making expanded paid sick leave a reality,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

“This is a decisive step forward in our city’s efforts to stand up for the rights and health of workers and their families. Through conversations and compromise, we have put forth practical legislation that allows businesses to protect their employees as well as their bottom lines. No one should have to decide between their paycheck and their health, and thanks to expanded earned sick time, thousands more working families won’t have to face that choice. I thank all the New Yorkers who helped shape this legislation, as well as Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, my Council colleagues, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Mayor Bill de Blasio for their unwavering advocacy and support,” said City Councilwoman Margaret Chin.

“I am honored to be a part of passing and putting this expansion of paid sick leave into law. As the new Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, this was a top priority for me. This legislation will enhance the quality of life for working families throughout New York City. It promotes employee productivity, protects workers and their workplace environment, and affords working families the opportunity to care for sick loved ones,” said City Councilman Daneek Miller.

“Today marks a major milestone. This paid sick leave law is a win for working families and all New Yorkers who care about public health and economic security. Our workers can’t work in fear of losing their jobs over an illness. That doesn’t benefit New Yorkers or our businesses. We applaud Mayor de Blasio, the City Council, and all advocates who did not waver in their commitment to a strong bill. The passage of this legislation is fundamental to addressing the economic uncertainty so many New Yorkers face in our city today,” said Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ.

“The Community Service Society applauds the mayor for signing the Earned Sick Time Act, which will create a more stable and healthier workforce for low-income workers who are still struggling to get by at a time when wages remain flat and the costs associated with living in the city continue to rise. We are also pleased to have played a role in advancing the paid sick leave law through our research and advocacy,” said David R. Jones, President and CEO of the Community Service Society.

“Today is a proud day for New York City’s working families,” said Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “This measure expands the initial Paid Sick Leave law to ensure that more workers can take off the time they need to recuperate from an illness, and more parents will have the freedom necessary to care for sick children without the fear of losing wages or employment. The City’s labor movement looks forward to continuing to work with the Mayor and City Council to advance the rights of New York City’s working men and women.”

“This is a great moment for families in New York City and a game changer for families around the country as we send a message loud and clear: all workers need to be able to provide care for themselves and their family members without risking their jobs or their financial security,” said Sherry Leiwant, Co-President of A Better Balance.

“By drastically expanding paid sick leave coverage, New York City is taking an important step towards ensuring that the city’s most exploited workers, those with the lowest pay and least economic security, will at least have the ability to care for themselves or loved ones when sick or injured without worrying about missing a day’s pay,” said Daisy Chung, executive director or the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York. “We look forward to working with the Mayor and City Council to monitor the law’s implementation and to revisiting aspects of the law, such as the ‘shift swapping’ provision, that may limit access to paid sick days for shift workers.”

“As Mayor de Blasio signs this bill into law today, we applaud him and Speaker Mark-Viverito for making expansion of the paid sick time law to an additional 500,000 workers their first legislative priority. And special thanks goes to original bill sponsor, now Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, for shepherding this bill over four and a half years. On April 1, 2014, New York will be a healthier place to live and work because 1.2 million workers will no longer be forced to go to work sick, or to choose between their job and caring for a sick family member,” said Donna Dolan, Executive Director of the New York Paid Leave Coalition.

“More than a million New Yorkers, mostly low-wage workers, will soon see a big difference in their lives. This is what progress looks like – people not having to choose between their families, their jobs, and their health. The Mayor rose to office with a clear mandate to forge a city that works for all of us, and today’s expansion of paid sick days is a strong sign that he never wavered from that purpose,” said Bill Lipton, State Director for the Working Families Party.

“New Yorkers understand that low-wage workers shouldn’t be forced to choose between their jobs and their health,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “This law means that New York workers can finally have some peace of mind on their families’ health.”

“I’ve worked at CVS as a merchandiser for over six years. During all of that time, I’ve never had the option of getting paid sick days, which means that I’ve had to come to work while sick. At CVS, I’m selling items to customers so they can take care of themselves. This new law means that now I can also take a sick day to take care of myself or a family member. As a member of the Retail Action Project, I’m excited for those in retail and workers across all industries to finally have this opportunity in New York City. I’m grateful for the work that the mayor and groups like A Better Balance have done to make this happen!” said Jerome Murray, CVS merchandiser and a member of the Retail Action Project.

“Today is a special day for the Make the Road New York members who were part of the campaign for paid sick days. We are so happy and proud that this law is being signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. As a recent father of a 6-month-old baby, I will be covered by this new expanded law, because I work for a construction company with six employees. Now, if my wife or my baby gets sick, I can stay home and take care of them without being afraid of losing my job,” said Joel Martinez, a member of Make the Road New York.

“This expanded paid sick leave law will be monumental for car washers across this city,” said RWDSU member and car wash worker Juan Carlos Rivera. “We fought hard to win a union contract that provides for paid sick leave, raises and other benefits, but so many other car washers do not yet have those protections at all. This will insure that working families do not have to choose between their jobs or their health. Car washers and low-wage workers all over New York will no longer be afraid of being fired for taking a sick day.”