Policy Resource

New York City Council Passes Paid Sick Leave Legislation

Aug 3, 2018

In May 2013, the New York City Council passed legislation requiring employers with 20 or more workers to provide paid sick leave.

Employees who have worked at least four months now receive five paid sick days per year to care for themselves or their ill family members. Employees accrue sick leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of sick leave per calendar year.

New York City’s Earned Sick Time Act (Paid Sick Leave Law) went into effect April 1, 2014. It created the legal right to sick leave for 3.4 million private and nonprofit sector workers. For one third of those workers (nearly 1.2 million), the Paid Sick Leave Law (PSL) marked the first time they had access to this vital workplace benefit. The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is charged with its implementation and administration.

Upon taking office in 2014, and before the PSL went into effect, Mayor Bill de Blasio put forward new legislation to expand the law’s impact and reach. Mayor de Blasio’s expansion was passed by the City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and was signed into law on March 20, 2014, extending the right to paid sick leave to an additional 500,000 employees. The expanded law:

  • Added grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings to the definition of family members whom a worker can legally care for using sick leave, bringing legal definitions in line with working New Yorker’s daily reality.
  • Extended the right to paid sick leave to workers at businesses with five or more employees, including those left out of the original legislation, which had applied to businesses with 15 or more employees only. As a result, an additional 355,000 New Yorkers now get paid sick leave (200,000 of whom had never had paid sick leave).
  • Removed exemptions for the manufacturing sector, extending paid sick leave to 76,000 workers, half of whom did not have access to paid sick leave previously.

In addition to legal rights, PSL provided workers with dignity in the workplace, protecting them from retaliation, including being fired, and employer rules that had required them to disclose private medical information. The law was a critical step in improving the lives of working New Yorkers, securing the city’s public health, and setting a national example of how cities can protect vulnerable Americans. Despite many predictions that the law would hurt the economy, as well as employers and employees alike, economic data shows the transition to complying with the law has been smooth, with minimal negative effect. This report outlines some of the milestones achieved in the first year of implementation of PSL.

Learn more about the benefits of paid sick leave and other family leave by reading ZERO TO THREE’s policy brief, Building a Secure & Healthy Start: Family Leave in the Early Years, and the Think BabiesTM Paid Family Leave Resource List.

Reviewed May 2018.

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