Thursday, October 29, 2015

Abigail Lootens / Emilie Nadler
Department of Consumer Affairs  
(212) 436-0042

New York City Hosts National Paid Sick Leave Symposium

Leaders from Across the Country Convene to Discuss the Importance of and Best Practices for Implementing and Enforcing Paid Sick Leave Laws

NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Releases New Data: Approximately $837,000 Secured in Fines and Restitution for More than 6,000 Employees

NEW YORK, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today kicks off “Making Paid Sick Leave Work: Sharing Strategies,” a national symposium convening jurisdictions who are enforcing, preparing to implement, or considering paid sick leave laws. The two-day event, beginning on October 29, addresses the importance of paid sick leave laws, the challenges and best practices for implementing and enforcing these laws, and frames paid sick leave movement from a national perspective. Leaders from 16 jurisdictions across the country are expected to attend the event, which features keynote speakers, panel discussions, and practitioner workshops. The event, held at the Ford Foundation, is hosted in partnership with the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for public policies and programs at the federal, state, and local levels to reduce poverty and create ladders to opportunity for all. At the event, DCA is announcing new data on its enforcement of New York City’s Paid Sick Leave Law, which includes securing approximately $837,000 in restitution and fines for more than 6,000 employees.

“No one should have to choose between taking care of themselves or a sick child, and earning a paycheck. The passage of paid sick leave laws in New York City was a landmark victory for New Yorkers across the five boroughs,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “As we continue to take aim at inequality as a city and as a nation, it is the implementation of humane, smart policies like this across the country that will bring us closer to building an America that understands and supports working families.”

“New York City’s Paid Sick Leave Law extended the right to sick leave to 1.2 million more Americans and, since then, more than a dozen others jurisdictions have followed suit,” said DCA Commissioner Julie Menin. “Just as we embarked on implementing the law here, others frequently ask us, and look to CLASP, to share experiences in implementing and enforcing paid sick leave. We hope that this gathering will give fresh insight and new ideas to advocates and leaders throughout the nation and ultimately extend this vital benefit to even more Americans.”

“CLASP celebrates the movement that has already brought earned sick time to about 25 jurisdictions around the nation,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of CLASP. “To fuel this movement, CLASP has helped agencies and advocates share lessons and discuss challenges around implementation. This convening builds upon and furthers that effort. We believe that effective implementation and enforcement are central to the movement’s expansion and in securing a federal minimum labor standard for earned sick time.”

“It is a tribute to the relentless advocacy of determined organizations that have made such a compelling and irrefutable case that we now see cities and states implementing paid sick days,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “For these policies to truly have the greatest impact for workers, it is essential that they are effectively implemented and enforced. We must also ensure all workers know their rights to guarantee the positive difference so many have pushed for and is now within the grasp.”

“I’m proud that New York City has been a trailblazer in recognizing paid sick leave as a basic right, not a luxury,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “No person should be forced to choose between their or their child's health and putting food on the table, a harsh reality that millions of Americans face each and every day. This forum will provide a significant resource to educate and encourage other leaders on the importance of creating similar laws to protect their families,” she added.

“There’s no greater reward in government than learning that the changes we’ve fought for really are making a difference in people’s lives,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, sponsor of New York City’s first law mandating the right to paid sick leave for most workers. “This law was never about racking up fines, and I look forward to a decrease in these numbers as paid sick leave becomes a universally-accepted part of business in our city – but until then, it’s great to see the Department of Consumer Affairs is hard at work enforcing the law and winning restitution for thousands of New Yorkers,” she added.

“Paid sick leave has made Brooklyn a healthier place to work and raise a family. Commissioner Menin has been an outstanding leader on this effort for our city, ensuring that DCA puts outreach to businesses and consumers first in everything they do. I am pleased to see that through their leadership, our City is continuing to explore best practices for how to improve implementation and enforcement of paid sick leave,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“The implementation of paid sick leave in New York City has been a huge success for both employees and employers due in large part to the tireless outreach efforts of Commissioner Menin and the Department of Consumer Affairs. This symposium is a perfect opportunity to showcase our approach, address common questions, and demonstrate how paid sick leave can be a success across the country,” said Council Member Rafael L. Espinal, Jr., Chair of the Council Consumer Affairs Committee.

"These latest figures are proof that the City’s efforts at educating business owners and securing restitution for workers under the paid sick leave law have been a success. Through the dedication and persistence of Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito, and many others, these important benefits continue to have a positive impact on thousands of working New York families,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.

“Nearly two years ago this administration and the Council took up the fight to expand paid sick leave and afford working families the respect they deserve. Today, the implementation of this policy has been a great success and New Yorkers are the beneficiaries,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor.

“All workers are entitled to sick leave. This is a humane policy. People should not be forced to come to work sick because staying home would result in a loss of pay. Looking back over the past year since the enactment of the law, I have to say, the enforcement of the law has been a success,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz.

“Thanks to the paid sick leave law in New York City, working New Yorkers no longer have to worry about losing a paycheck, or their job altogether, when taking care of themselves or a sick son or daughter,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “The Department of Consumer Affairs has done a fantastic job of ensuring that all New Yorkers are aware of this law, not only through outreach events, but also by conducting investigations, and fining businesses who have refused to comply. This symposium will ensure that advocates and leaders from across the country can share best practices, and most importantly, bring effective enforcement of paid sick leave to even more American workers,” he added.

“Now is a crucial time to insert paid sick leave into the national dialogue as our country rapidly approaches a national election that will have ramifications on paid sick laws. Daily millions of workers across the country are forced to choose between their job and taking care of their health. No one should have to forego the benefits provided by paid sick leave in order to be able to provide for their families, and CLASP is certainly driving that conversation forward,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

With the passage of New York City’s expanded Paid Sick Leave Law in 2014, the City of New York became the seventh jurisdiction in the country to enact a paid sick leave law. After New York City passed the law, the momentum has continued to grow and more than a dozen more jurisdictions have enacted laws giving workers access to paid sick leave. These laws have given access to sick leave to more than 10.8 million Americans in 26 jurisdictions.

The implementation and enforcement of labor standards presents unique challenges. Many municipalities have few or no resources dedicated to the enforcement of employment standards and may not know the best way to implement proven, cost-effective strategies. Even for states, which have more experience enforcing these types of laws, implementing paid sick leave presents new challenges.

DCA has applied its business outreach and public education know-how and enforcement expertise to ensure that New York City workers have the right to take time off from work to care for themselves and their families. New York City’s extensive education campaign reached more than six million New Yorkers in 26 languages and DCA has conducted approximately 1,000 events where staff distributed more than 2 million brochures about paid sick leave. Since April 1, 2014, when NYC’s Paid Sick Leave Law went into effect, DCA has settled approximately 92 percent of the 553 investigations it conducted, securing nearly $837,000 in restitution and fines ($484,000 restitution for more than 6,000 employees and $353,000 in fines). Additionally, through settlement agreements, ensured thousands more are receiving sick leave as required by the law.

This forum will allow municipalities and state governments across the nation to share their paid sick leave stories, discuss the best implementation strategies, and suggest solutions to common challenges in enforcing these types of laws.

For more information about New York City’s Paid Sick Leave Law visit

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) licenses, inspects, and educates businesses, assists and informs consumers, mediates complaints, and offers free financial counseling and safe banking products. DCA enforces the Consumer Protection Law, the Paid Sick Leave Law and other related business laws throughout New York City and licenses nearly 80,000 businesses in 55 different industries. For more information, call 311 or visit DCA online at or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.