On April 7, 2020, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an emergency ordinance that will require private employers with 500 or more employees to provide public health emergency leave during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were proud to work with Supervisor Gordon Mar and partners in California, including Jobs with Justice San Francisco and Legal Aid at Work, on this important measure, and we congratulate them on the ordinance’s successful passage. Once the Mayor signs the bill, as expected, it will take effect.
Last week, we joined Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, activist Gloria Steinem, and other city officials and partners for a rally at New York City Hall in support of legislation that would mandate 80 hours of paid personal time for most NYC workers—a measure that will advance the rights and well-being of working families.
As we shared during our testimony at the hearing following the rally, too often, we hear from workers across the City who are forced to choose between work and important life events, like parent-teacher conferences, graduations, retirements, and other life milestones. And the value of simply taking time off to enjoy oneself and relax cannot be understated: studies show that taking personal time can improve one’s health, longevity, and productivity.
During his remarks, Mayor de Blasio thanked A Better Balance for our role in fighting for paid personal time and other protections for NYC workers. We were proud to work with the City to draft and pass paid sick days, and to expand the law to cover safe leave and expand family definitions, and we applaud the Mayor, Public Advocate, and City Council for recognizing that New Yorkers also deserve paid personal time.
“Time off is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who emphasized the importance of creating a cultural shift, not just a legal one. “People deserve and have earned time off. Our city will be better for it. Our country looks at this city and will follow suit.”
Gloria Steinem highlighted the positive impact the law will have on marginalized workers especially: “This will affect all New Yorkers, especially women of color and immigrant women in low wage industries, who have often been forced to choose between caring for their families and a paycheck.”
The U.S. is far behind on this issue: every other economically advanced country in the world guarantees at least two weeks of paid personal time for all workers, and most guarantee at least four weeks of time. New York City has long been a trailblazer when it comes to progressive policy supporting working families, and the paid personal time bill will help lead the way in establishing what should be a basic right for all workers.
You can watch the hearing here, and find our testimony at 2:22:00.