More than one million workers in New York City do not have any paid sick time to care for themselves or sick loved ones. For these New Yorkers, taking time off from work to recover or get needed medical care means loss of pay, retaliation like the loss of a good shift, or even being fired. Government statistics show large inequities by income; in the New York metropolitan region, 84% of workers in the top quarter of wage earners receive paid sick time, but only 37% of workers in the bottom quarter of wage earners do.
The New York City Paid Sick Time Act would ensure a modest minimum floor of paid sick time for workers in the city, much like the minimum wage does for pay. San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, Connecticut, Seattle, Portland (Oregon), and Philadelphia have passed paid sick time legislation.
BREAKING NEWS! After years of activism, paid sick time advocates and law makers reached agreement on March 29, 2013, on a paid sick leave bill in New York City that is expected to become law! Sherry Leiwant, A Better Balance Co-President & Co-Founder, was one of the key negotiators hammering out the details. As of April 1, 2014, workers in businesses with 20 or more employees will be able to earn up to 5 paid sick days a year to care for themselves or certain family members; beginning October 1, 2015, workers in businesses with 15 or more employees will be able to earn up to 5 paid sick days a year. Workers in smaller businesses will receive job protection for up to 5 unpaid sick days a year, ensuring that they can't be fired when they or their family members are sick. Stay tuned to this page for updates. In the meantime, check out this New York Times article on the agreement, this New York Times editorial in support of the agreement, and Sherry of A Better Balance discussing the win on MSNBC Live.
Despite widespread public support and a veto-proof majority of City Council Members signed on as co-sponsors, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced in October 2010 that she would not allow a vote on the Paid Sick Time Act. Speaker Quinn promised to review her decision on paid sick time every two months. In response to business concerns and to ensure that small businesses are not burdened, the coalition made numerous business-friendly amendments to the Paid Sick Time Act in October 2012. On March 22, 2013, the City Council held another hearing on the amended paid sick days bill, and A Better Balance's Sherry Leiwant testified in support.
New Yorkers overwhelmingly support paid sick time legislation. Countless union leaders, health care practitioners, public health experts, women leaders, parent groups, economists, LGBT advocates, and small business owners have endorsed the campaign to provide paid sick time.
In the past three years, A Better Balance and members of the New York City Paid Sick Days Coalition have held dozens of events and actions to demonstrate the broad and diverse support for paid sick time in New York City. The need for paid sick time not only impacts more than a million New Yorkers, but it is also an important social justice issue that impacts New Yorkers in many different ways. Through our rallies and actions, we have shown that paid sick time is a public health issue, a women’s issue, a moral issue, an economic justice issue, a parent’s issue, an LGBT issue, an economic justice issue, and a racial justice issue. Click below to learn more about some of our events around paid sick time in 2011 and 2012.
On August 4, 2012, the New York Times Editorial Board called on the New York City Council to pass paid sick days legislation: "American workers should have paid sick leave, and New York City could set a standard for the rest of the nation. Workers in the city deserve a sensible and humane sick-leave benefit now." The Times published a second editorial in support of paid sick days legislation in New York City on October 14, 2012, and a third editorial in support of paid sick days legislation in New York City on February 26, 2013. Read the first editorial here, the second editorial here, and the third editorial here!
In addition to the prominent support of the New York Times, the paid sick time campaign has received significant op-ed and editorial support. Some of the highlights include:
The New York City Paid Sick Time Campaign has generated tremendous media coverage. For a media roundup of the campaign, view our press page:
The New York City Paid Sick Days Coalition is extremely strong and draws support from a wide range of groups and leaders:
Polling data on the issue of paid sick time shows huge — and growing — support in New York City:
To learn more about the need for paid sick time in New York City, please see Sick in the City: What the Lack of Paid Leave Means for Working New Yorkers (A Better Balance and CSS-NY, October 2009). A January 2012 update to "Sick in the City" is available here.
According to a comprehensive report released by the Economic Policy Institute in October 2012, the New York City Paid Sick Time Act will not significantly raise cost for New York City businesses.
Additional research on the need for and benefits of paid sick time in New York City:
Testimony by Donna Levitt, Head of San Francisco Office of Labor Standards:
"The implementation of our law has been quite smooth and businesses have not reported compliance with the law to be a major problem. Employees did not use all of the days of paid sick leave that were available and there were very few reports of abuse of paid sick leave."
"In fact, the head of the Chamber of Commerce and the Golden Gate Restaurant Association were both quoted in the press as saying that paid sick leave did not present undue hardships that could not be managed by their members and did represent good public policy."
"A study was done of the first year of our ordinance and found that no businesses had either closed or laid off workers specifically citing the cause as the San Francisco paid sick leave ordinance."