New York City Gets Ready For Paid Sick Days

min wage employee
Bonnie Natko – Jackson Heights, NY

For years, over 1 million New Yorkers have forced themselves to go in to work regardless of their, or a family member’s, poor health. Risk of getting fired, losing preference on good shifts and no access to sick pay are the main causes behind this crisis – a crisis which not only endangers the individual but the general public too.

Things changed on June 26 2013 when the New York City Council passed the Earned Sick Time Act, making NYC the largest U.S. city to establish paid sick days. 145 countries already have such provisions in place.

The latest data reveals that the new legislation has far exceeded expectations. Crain’s Insider blog reported that “Legislation mandating that city development projects receiving more than $1 million in taxpayer subsidies pay a so-called “living wage” has covered 12,000 full-time jobs in New York City in nine months, a union report released Tuesday asserts, contrary to estimates that it would affect only a few hundred positions annually. But the debate about the bill’s impact is far from being resolved, and no one yet knows how many of the jobs actually will get pay boosts from the law. The legislation requires developers to pay $10 an hour with benefits, or $11.50 without, to some of the workers on project sites. New York City Council staff had predicted that about an additional 400 jobs annually would be covered by the law.”

This will have a disproportionately positive impact on low-wage earning New Yorkers. Higher earners can often have access to paid sick-time already and lower earners are more likely to attend work sick because they cannot afford to miss pay.

The Act explained:

  • The Act will provide sick pay to approximately 1 million workers who currently have no access to it
  • It will also ensure that employers cannot fire employees for taking a sick day
  • Smaller companies have to provide workers with up to 40 hours of sick pay
  • Larger companies (15-20 + workers) will have to provide workers with up to 5 days of sick pay
  • The Act comes into effect starting April 2014

Workers should familiarise them with their new rights under the act. Common questions might include: Who is covered? What constitutes being sick? Can sick time be used to care for a loved one? Answers to these questions, and more, can be found here under the New York column.

For more information on Workers’ Rights: Workers Rights at LawHelpNY.

This post is brought to you by LawHelpNY intern Sham Z. Khan, a current student at University College London with a concentration in legal studies.

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