One Year Later, City's Paid Sick Leave Law Working for New Yorkers
Paid Sick Leave is a critical step in improving the lives of working New Yorkers, protecting the City’s public health, and setting a national example of how cities can be at the forefront of protecting vulnerable Americans
NEW YORK—New York City’s landmark paid sick leave law, which turns one year old today, has been implemented smoothly and effectively by the City, bringing this important worker benefit to millions of employees in the five boroughs. One of Mayor de Blasio’s first actions as Mayor was to strengthen and expand the City’s yet-to-be-implemented Earned Sick Leave Act (also known as the Paid Sick Leave Law), to include over 500,000 more New Yorkers who weren’t already covered. Mayor de Blasio accelerated the law’s implementation to April 1, 2014. He also expanded the law to include manufacturing workers who had been exempted, as well as the definition of covered family members to include grandparents, grandchildren and siblings.
In the absence of momentum on paid sick leave at the federal level, cities and states have taken the lead. Since New York’s enactment and expansion of the City’s Paid Sick Leave law, the issue has emerged on the legislative agenda in states and localities throughout the country. Following New York City’s lead, cities including Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Eugene, Oregon; Oakland, California; Tacoma, Washington; as well as several cities in New Jersey, and the states of California and Massachusetts, have recently enacted laws to give workers access to paid sick leave. This week, on the one year anniversary of New York City’s law, the White House will begin a campaign traveling across the country to promote paid leave policies.
New York City’s Paid Sick Leave Law – the largest municipal law of its kind in the nation – covers employees who work at least 80 hours a year. If an employer has five or more employees, the employees are entitled to paid sick leave. If the employer has four or fewer employees, they are entitled to unpaid sick leave. Under the law, workers earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year.
In order to ensure New Yorkers knew their rights and responsibilities under the law, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) implemented an extensive outreach campaign in multiple languages, that engaged and educated both employees and employers. This campaign included the distribution of nearly two million pieces of literature, which went to over 400,000 businesses and were distributed at presentations at more than 800 events. The City additionally implemented a far-reaching advertising campaign in subway cars, stations, and buses, as well as on television, radio, online and in daily, community, and foreign language newspapers. Paid sick leave information continues to be provided in 26 languages, beyond the 7 mandated by the law.
The administration is committed to working with business owners to make sure the law’s implementation is smooth. For the first six months of the law, businesses were not fined for violations. During this time, DCA assisted in mediating any complaints and recovering lost pay employees were due. Currently, when DCA receives a complaint, its first step is to mediate between employers and employees – the quickest and most effective path for employees and employers. However, if an employer retaliates against an employee, DCA will then fine the business and ensure employees receive their due pay.
For more information, visit nyc.gov/paidsickleave.
“For too many New Yorkers, losing one day of pay can be a setback, and no New Yorker should have to lose a day’s pay in order to tend to a sick child,” said Mayor de Blasio. “This administration is to committed reducing income inequality in our city, and that’s why we made it a priority to expand the paid sick leave law to include over 500,000 more New Yorkers and accelerate the law’s implementation as soon as we came into office.”
“Over the past year, the Paid Sick Leave Law has transformed the lives of millions of the City’s hardworking employees,” said Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin. “At the same time, DCA has ensured that employers have been part of the process, working with them at every stage to make the implementation of this important law simple, easy and cost effective. Paid Sick Leave has helped working families achieve health and dignity and made New York a better place to work and a healthier place to live.”
CHANGES THE DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION MADE TO CITY’S LAW:
Local Law 46 of 2013
Local Law 7 of 2014
Beginning April 1, 2014 businesses with 20 or more employees who work more than 80 hours a year will provide their employees with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year. Employees who are not entitled to paid sick leave will be entitled to unpaid sick leave.
Beginning April 1, 2014 businesses with 5 or more employees who work more than 80 hours a year will provide their employees with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year. Employees who are not entitled to paid sick leave will be entitled to unpaid sick leave.
Manufacturing sector employees are excluded from the law.
Manufacturing sector employees are included.
Family members that can be cared for with sick time include an employee’s child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, or the child or parent of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner.
Additional family members that can be cared for with sick time include an employee’s sibling (including a half, adopted or step sibling), grandchild and grandparent.
Complaints must be filed with DCA within 270 days of the alleged violation.
Complaints must be filed with DCA within two years of the alleged violation.
Law takes effect assuming the City’s economy improves based on an increase in the City’s Coincident Economic Index from January 2012 to December 2013.
This economic trigger is removed and replaced with an effective date of April 1, 2014.
“As we mark one year since the City Council's expanded paid sick leave law first went into effect, we can see all around us the profound, positive impact paid sick leave has had on our City. Paid sick leave strengthens our workforce and help support a stronger, healthier New York City. Thanks to the joint efforts of the New York City Council and the de Blasio administration, no New Yorker has to choose between putting food on the table and taking care of their family and I thank the Department of Consumer Affairs for their implementation of this critical issue.” Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York City Council
“For too long, hard-working New Yorkers were forced to choose between their health, their family's health, and losing pay or, sometimes, even losing their jobs. Thanks to the paid sick leave law, we have given a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of our community members and friends. As we move forward, we must ensure that all eligible New Yorkers know their rights and are receiving their benefits. This law has made our city healthier, stronger, and more productive.” Public Advocate Tish James
“As we recognize the one year anniversary of paid sick leave being reality in New York City, I want to applaud the Department of Consumer Affairs for its tireless efforts to conduct outreach to both businesses and employees across the City. After speaking with many business alliances and associations, the consensus has been that DCA's outreach has resulted in less confusion and high levels of compliance with the law. Their work is an example of how City agencies and small businesses can work together towards a common goal.” Council Member Rafael Espinal, Chair of the Council Consumer Affairs Committee.
“No one should get fired or lose a day’s pay because they or their child are too sick to work or attend school. Passing New York City’s landmark paid sick leave law was one of my proudest moments in public service, and it’s been a privilege to assist with the expansion of the law that Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito engineered.” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
“The health of our city's businesses and workers is stronger because of the successful rollout of paid sick leave. Mayor de Blasio put forward a robust vision of closing the inequality gap and ensuring fair treatment of employees and their families facing medical issues. The Department of Consumer Affairs has superbly executed that vision under the great leadership of Commissioner Menin. The outreach and education have been aggressive and continuous, while mediation and compliance efforts have been common-sense and expeditious. Today, we celebrate a law that is changing how our city, and in fact our nation, are caring for its workforce.” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
“We fought hard for the implementation and expansion of the paid sick law, especially the inclusion of an additional 500,000 New Yorkers who weren’t already covered by the original bill. It was a victory for Bronxites and New Yorkers across this city,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. I would like to thank Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Consumer Affairs for implementing a large campaign to reach out to employers and employees, informing them of their obligations under the law and fundamental rights to take compensated days off when they or a family member is sick without worrying about losing their paycheck, or worse, their jobs.” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.
“Life happens, and access to paid sick leave has enabled countless families to keep a healthier work-life balance. New York City recognizes the value of people taking care of their families as needed – from small children and grandchildren to older grandparents and siblings – with the security that comes with protection from potential retaliation. Thanks to the outreach by the administration and the acceleration of its implementation, our paid sick leave law has served as a model policy for states and localities across the country. Certainly for the World’s Borough, paid sick leave is good for families and therefore good for Queens.” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz
“The Department of Consumer Affairs has done an incredible job of educating business owners about their responsibilities under the Paid Sick Leave law and supporting them on the road to full compliance. This is a model of a non-punitive, business-friendly way to implement a major policy change so that both employers and employees come out winners. I look forward to remaining deeply engaged with this initiative through the Paid Sick Advisory Council and conversations with small businesses as we enter year two.” Council Member Robert Cornegy, Chair of the Council Small Business Committee
“The announcement today is a tribute to the Department of Consumer Affairs, which has done an excellent job of public education and judicious enforcement of the Earned Sick Time Act, as well as to the city’s employers, who have responded with an excellent record of compliance.” Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for New York City
“Under the leadership of Commissioner Menin, the Department of Consumer Affairs has done a terrific job ensuring that restaurant owners have the information and support needed to comply with the paid sick leave law. Running a successful restaurant is challenging enough, so DCA's proactive educational approach to compliance and their mediation-first instead of fine-first approach is exactly kind of regulatory culture our city's small businesses appreciate." Andrew Rigie, Executive Director, NYC Hospitality Alliance
“Workers fought long and hard for paid sick leave and on this one year anniversary, we thank Mayor de Blasio for expanding the original law and we reaffirm our commitment to making sure that all workers will have the opportunity to better their lives through sound laws and strong unions.” Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Workers Union
“A Better Balance congratulates Mayor de Blasio, the Department of Consumer Affairs, and the City of New York on the one year anniversary of the paid sick leave law going into effect. This administration and DCA have worked tirelessly over the last year to conduct outreach to businesses and employees so that all New Yorkers know about their new rights and can take advantage of them. A Better Balance is proud to work with this administration to insure that the purpose of this law is served - that all workers can take time they need to care for themselves and their families without risking their economic security.” Sherry Leiwant, Co-President, A Better Balance
“The paid sick leave law has meant a measure of economic security, dignity, and peace of mind for more than a million New Yorkers, mostly low-wage workers. New Yorkers no longer have to make a painful choice between their jobs and their health when they get sick. What was once controversial is now common sense. New York has also helped spark national action, as 13 cities and two states have passed paid sick leave laws since New York City did, and now paid sick leave is a part of the national political debate. Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Menin have led an innovative community outreach and engagement effort to ensure that workers in all five boroughs know their rights, and we commend them for a successful implementation.” Bill Lipton, New York State Director, Working Families Party
“I’d like to commend Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Menin on what has been the successful implementation of a law that has brought much-needed relief to thousands of New Yorkers. Being able to take the time to care for yourself or a loved one when they are sick is a right that should not be denied to anyone. The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies is proud to have partnered with the Department of Consumer Affairs in bringing the message of paid sick leave to thousands of non profits and faith-based groups across our City. Together, we are embarking on a new approach to educate our communities, congregations, and businesses about what the City is doing to ensure a more vibrant, equitable, and healthier New York.” Jennifer Jones-Austin, CEO, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies
“Healthier workers make for a healthier New York economy. We applaud the de Blasio administration for expanding paid sick leave and implementing this game-changing initiative for working New Yorkers with such enthusiasm. Our members have eagerly embraced the opportunity to partner with the Department of Consumer Affairs – particularly around last July’s innovative Day of Action – to educate working New Yorkers about paid sick leave, and we look forward to continuing this critical work.” Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York
“Congratulations to Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Julie Menin, and staff of the Department of Consumer Affairs on the first anniversary of the extension to 1.2 million New Yorkers the peace of mind that comes with knowing you no longer have to worry about losing a day's pay or even your job if you need time to care for yourself or a family member. DCA has done an outstanding job of outreach so that all workers, particularly those who have low incomes, are aware of their rights under the law. DCA’s outreach program is certainly a model for the rest of the country.” Donna Dolan, Executive Director of the New York Paid Leave Coalition and Co-Director of the Paid Sick Days Campaign
“The members of New York Communities for Change – along with our many partners – had long made the passage of the paid sick leave law a top priority, and we congratulate the de Blasio administration on the law’s successful implementation in its first year. Before the passage of the law, too many workers in our City had to worry about losing pay – or even worse – their jobs – if they took time off to care for themselves or a loved one. The paid sick leave law has eliminated these false choices and ensured that New York’s workers and their families are healthier and better-protected. We look forward to our continued partnership with the Department of Consumer Affairs in implementing the law and educating employees about their rights – no matter where they live or what language they speak.” Jonathan Westin, Executive Director, New York Communities for Change
“Our 75,000 members in New York City know just how important paid sick leave is for working families and communities; no one should have to choose between a sorely-needed paycheck and the health of a loved one. We applaud Mayor de Blasio for expanding the law to cover half a million more New Yorkers than it originally did and are proud to have been part of getting the original bill passed. We also thank Commissioner Menin and the Department of Consumer Affairs for their efforts to inform New Yorkers of all stripes of their rights under the paid sick leave law. Our city is better and stronger as a result - and continues to thrive and grow.” Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU.
“The de Blasio administration’s expansion and highly successful rollout of paid sick leave is providing much-needed economic security, particularly to low-wage workers, who no longer have to choose between their health and their paychecks. This has been accomplished while New York City has continued to experience record job growth.” Nancy Rankin, Vice President for Policy at Community Service Society.
“Adhikaar, which serves Nepali and Tibetan communities in Queens, is very proud to partner with the Department of Consumer Affairs to conduct outreach in our languages to new immigrants, particularly those with limited English proficiency and those working in sectors like domestic work, in nail salons, and at restaurants. We will continue to work together to make sure that all workers can take paid sick days when needed without fear of retaliation from their employers.” Luna Ranjit, Co-founder and Executive Director, Adhikaar
“La Fuente is proud that New York City’s paid sick leave law has benefited so many in just one year. We applaud the Department of Consumer Affairs’ proactive language access implementation, which made information about the law available in 26 languages to many of the working immigrants who call this City home. With such a massive undertaking, New York City has demonstrated excellence by covering the largest number of workers in the nation. Municipalities that follow the example of this inclusive implementation strategy will certainly achieve large-scale successes of their own.” Lucia Gomez-Jimenez, Executive Director, La Fuente
“While the Brooklyn Chamber had concerns with the paid sick leave law due to potential negative implications for businesses, particularly around preparedness, the Department of Consumer Affairs exceeded all expectations with its outreach and education efforts. The Brooklyn Chamber was proud to partner with DCA on its grassroots approach, which engaged over a thousand businesses in the borough, across many cultures and languages, and emphasized mediation and education ahead of inflicting unnecessary fines. Thanks to the work of Mayor Bill de Blasio and DCA Commissioner Julie Menin, our paid sick leave law has been implemented in a fair manner for both employers and employees, and has made New York City’s business community even stronger.” Carlo Scissura, President & CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
“Commissioner Menin and her team have done an outstanding job in making sure that businesses in all five boroughs have been educated about the paid sick leave law. Their work in translating the needed documents and creation of online capabilities to access the information has been essential in making sure the entire business community has had the opportunity to understand the processes and procedures in handling this employee benefit.” Nancy Ploeger, President, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
“I applaud the Department of Consumer Affairs’ efforts to ensure a healthier workforce for the City's many small businesses. The City has effectively partnered with businesses across the City and right here in Bed-Stuy and DCA’s staff has actually visited more than 100 businesses in person to educate owners and operators of their obligations under the law. This type of direct outreach is a first for a City agency and we’ve been pleased to partner with DCA on all of their outreach efforts – ones that have made it easy and simple for businesses to learn about and comply with the law.” Michael Lambert, Executive Director of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Gateway Business Improvement District and Co-Chair of the New York City BID Association
“Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner Julie Menin have worked hard to ensure that immigrant communities, like Chinatown, are able to access information on paid sick leave in their language of choice – from Chinese to Croatian and from Polish to Punjabi. I thank the Mayor and the Commissioner for their unprecedented outreach around this important law, one which has helped countless workers access paid sick leave for the first time.” Justin Yu, Chinatown Chamber of Commerce
“As a representative of Jamaica’s many businesses, I commend Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Menin's teams for creating a partnership with the small business community around the implementation of paid sick leave that has ensured that already-stressed businesses are not further burdened by the implementation of the paid sick leave law. The City has dedicated significant resources for education, in an effort to ensure smooth compliance. As lawmakers across the country continue to debate the need for more paid sick leave, New York City’s collaborative approach should be used as their model.” Rhonda Binda, Executive Director, Jamaica Center Business Improvement District
“Though we had some concerns about the implementation of the paid sick leave law, the Department of Consumer Affairs has done an outstanding job at reaching out to not only our merchants in our business improvement district, but also to our office. They took the time to walk us through the program, provided us the information for distribution, and have done direct outreach to our merchants. This has been one of the easiest implementation programs we have experienced, and we thank Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Menin, and the staff at DCA for working closely with small businesses and our BID to make the changes smoothly.” Lisa Sorin, Executive Director, Westchester Square Business Improvement District
“As a restaurant owner in New York City, I place a premium on, and am committed to, elevating the working environment and conditions of this industry for its employees. Providing paid sick leave to our employees was has let our employees know that we value them, their health, and the health of their families, too. In addition, knowing that we provide paid sick leave to our employees leaves our guests with the sense that we care equally as much about their health, as well. And ultimately, having a healthy and happy workforce helps our bottom line.” Farid Ali-Lancheros, Owner, Bogota Latin Bistro, Park Slope, Brooklyn
“Being honest, the implementation of the paid sick leave law terrified me. The paperwork involved, the grey areas, the cost – it all seemed very cumbersome at first. One year later, I am happy to report that implementing paid sick leave has been reasonable to manage and has been a wonderful benefit for my team. The Department of Consumer Affairs has been extremely helpful, holding information sessions for my store managers and getting us ready to implement in many different ways – it’s all gone forward without any issues.” Gregory Zamfotis, Owner, Gregory’s Coffee, Manhattan
“I’ve always believed in providing paid sick leave because as a business owner you have a responsibility to the people that work for you, as well as your customers. Providing healthy and delicious food would be meaningless without providing a healthy environment to work in. I’m thrilled that everyone in the city is now doing this.” Barbara Sibley, Owner, La Palapa, East Village, Manhattan
“I work with food all day, so I really can’t be sick at work. I had seen signs at my job about ‘ESTA’ – the Earned Sick Time Act – but I didn’t really realize what that was until I got my paycheck after being out for two days and to my great surprise, I saw that I’d been paid for the time I was out! Like they told me at work – you’ve earned it, you should take it. This paid sick leave law that Mayor de Blasio has helped make a reality allowed me to take care of myself when I was sick and come back to work healthier and happier, especially since I don’t have to lose out on my pay, which I need to support myself and my young son.” Kai Sumpter, Grocery Store Employee, Morris Heights, The Bronx