Paid Sick Days – On Hold for Too Long

by | Sep 29, 2010 | Paid Sick Days

Throughout the long, hot summer — despite the veto-proof majority in the New York City Council, despite the endless terrible experiences of workers who’ve been forced to work sick, despite the loads of testimony in favor of the Paid Sick Time Act — New York’s proposed paid sick days law has remained in limbo. The Council was awaiting the results of an unrepresentative business-side study that — as we now know — used deeply flawed methodology to produce absurd results. In the meantime, more than one million New Yorkers are still without paid sick days, forced to put their jobs and economic security at risk every time they need to take a day off to recover from illness or care for a sick family member.

But now, two new studies provide solid evidence that New Yorkers need a paid sick days law and that such a law would not harm job growth or business growth. In contrast to the flawed business study, previously unpublished Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation Survey (NCS) data for the New York metropolitan area provide a realistic picture — and demonstrate the need for the City Council to act. For New Yorkers, the good news in the NCS data is that the rate of paid sick days access among private sector workers in the New York metropolitan area is higher than the national average (73% compared to 62% nationally). Yet behind the 73% number, there are huge gaps in access to paid sick days by income level, industry type, and firm size. Only 37% of workers in the bottom wage quartile have paid sick days, compared to 84% in the top wage quartile; little more than half of private industry service workers (54%) have paid sick days, compared to 86% of management and professional workers. And only 62% of workers in firms with fewer than 100 employees have paid sick days, compared to 87% in firms of 500 or more.

The Paid Sick Time Act would bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots. Yet business associations opposing paid sick days continue to argue that the business community cannot bear the cost. They have gone so far as to claim that if it is passed, companies will leave the city. A new report from the Drum Major Institute (DMI), which studies the employment impacts in San Francisco after the city passed its own paid sick days bill three years ago, utterly discredits this claim.

DMI found that not only was there no negative impact from San Francisco’s paid sick days law, but that in the last three years employment growth in San Francisco has been stronger than in neighboring counties that do not have a law. The number of businesses in the city has grown as well. In fact, DMI notes, “Business growth was greater in San Francisco than in neighboring counties for both small and large businesses and in the industries widely considered to be most impacted by paid sick leave: retail and food service.”

If the New York City Council weighs this evidence fairly and impartially, it will conclude that passing the Paid Sick Time Act is good not only for workers, but also for businesses and the City’s economy. Tell the New York City Council to bring the Paid Sick Time Act to a vote now.

Call Speaker Quinn at (212) 788-7210 or write to her and other New York City leaders.