Next Steps for New York City

by | Apr 1, 2010 | Paid Sick Days

On March 25, New York City Councilwoman Gale Brewer reintroduced New York City’s Paid Sick Time Act in the City Council, with 34 of the City Council’s 51 members as co-sponsors. Advocates celebrated the bill’s reintroduction with a thrilling and energizing rally at City Hall. Enacting the paid sick days bill is a high priority for the City Council’s Progressive Caucus. While cognizant of the challenges before them, supporters came close to victory in 2009 and are hopeful that the bill will become law this year. A hearing will be held on May 4.

Strong legislative support for the bill reflects the sobering fact that, according to a study released last year, 1.3 million workers in New York City lack access to paid sick days to seek medical treatment or care for themselves or a family member when ill. In response, the paid sick time bill would require employers within the City to allow workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every thirty hours worked, up to 5 days per year for small businesses and 9 days per year for larger businesses. Under the bill, earned sick time would be available to allow an employee to care for their own illness or routine medical care; an employee’s need to care for an ill spouse, child, parent, grandparent, or domestic partner; or in the event a school or business is closed due to a public health emergency. This legislation could not be timelier. As a spokesperson for the Working Parties Family explained, “President Obama’s health care reform is a big leap forward, but if you’re like the 48% of New York City’s workers that can’t take a day off without losing pay, seeing a doctor when you need to may still be impossible.”

In order to help assure legislators and the public that a paid sick days standard will not lead to job loss, the Drum Major Institute released a new report in conjunction with the re-introduction of the New York City bill that demonstrates that San Francisco’s paid sick days law has not harmed job growth.

Some notable findings from the report include the following:

  • Employment remains stronger in San Francisco, the first city in the country to implement a paid sick days law in 2007, than in neighboring counties without such a law.
  • Total employment in the five counties neighboring San Francisco fell by 5.2 percent between December of 2006, immediately before the paid sick days law went into effect, and December of 2009. Total employment in San Francisco fell by only 3 percent during that period, even in the midst of the worst recession since World War II.
  • The job loss rate in San Francisco was not only less than in all 5 neighboring counties aggregated together, but was also less than in each and every one of the 5 neighboring counties individually.
  • San Francisco experienced stronger employment than neighboring counties from December 2006 to December 2008 in the industries that are most affected by paid sick days. Growth in leisure/hospitality and accommodation/food services was twice as high in San Francisco as in the surrounding 5 counties and loss in retail jobs was less than half as much as in surrounding counties.