Together we won the right to sick leave for workers in NYC
Following a four-year fight, the Earned Sick Time Act became law on June 26, 2013 providing sick leave for the first time to nearly a million workers in New York City who previously lacked this basic labor standard. Mayor Bill de Blasio went on to expand the law to provide paid sick leave to hundreds of thousands of additional workers in smaller businesses with between 5 and 15 employees. The measure was signed into law March 19, 2014 and went into effect on April 1, 2014. The act provides private sector workers in businesses with 5 or more employees up to 40 hours of paid sick time a year, and up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave to those employed by smaller firms, ensuring that no worker can be fired for being sick. The Earned Sick Time Act is a major victory for New Yorkers, especially low-wage workers already struggling to get by.
The Community Service Society played a crucial role in the act’s passage providing essential research documenting how the widespread lack of paid sick days among low-income New Yorkers increased the likelihood of going to work sick, relying on costly emergency room care, and being forced to send ill children to school or day care.
As part of a broad-based coalition of affected workers, labor, women’s groups, health advocates, seniors, and advocacy organizations, CSS worked to promote awareness of the magnitude of the problem, who is most affected, and answer questions about how a paid sick days policy in New York City would impact jobs and business. CSS’s efforts, led by VP of Policy Research and Advocacy Nancy Rankin, included testimony before the City Council, op-eds, and research, polling and analysis relied on by the campaign and news media. CSS joined with our coalition partners in rallies and petitions, making the voices of low-income New Yorkers heard.
Now that we’ve won the right to sick leave, we’ve turned our attention to raising awareness of how the new law works, to make sure that covered workers actually benefit. Passage of paid sick days in New York City provided huge momentum for the national movement; since enactment here, eleven more cities and two states have gone on to make sick leave a right through legislation or ballot initiatives, culminating in President Obama’s call for passage of a federal law in his January 2015 State of the Union Address.
Learn more about the fight to bring paid sick days to New York City below: