Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito took the first concrete step toward making good on their collective pledges during the 2013 elections to address the city’s growing economic inequality gap. Their joint proposal to expand the “Earned Sick Time Act,” which was passed by the Council in May 2013, would require businesses of 5 or more employees to provide five paid sick days a year, a basic labor standard that most higher- income earners take for granted.
Amending the paid sick leave law to cover more of the city’s smaller businesses is critical because employees of these businesses are the ones who most often now lack access to even one paid sick day. Our latest Unheard Third data shows that the original law effectively leaves out more than a third of the workers now without a single paid sick day – and just gives them job protection in the form of unpaid leave.
A more inclusive application of the law is also good public policy. It ensures that all employers have to play by the same rules, thereby discouraging unfair competition and protecting more workers from being forced to come to work sick jeopardizing their health, that of customers, co-workers and commuters.
The Community Service Society applauds the mayor and speaker for their efforts to create a more stable and healthier workforce for low-income workers who are still struggling to get by at a time when wages remain flat and the costs associated with living in the city continues to rise. We are also pleased to have played a role in advancing the paid sick leave law through our research and advocacy.