Two Years After Mayor de Blasio Expands Paid Sick Leave to One Million New Yorkers, City's Economy Stronger Than Ever

April 1, 2016

Department of Consumer Affairs secures more than $1.7 million in fines and restitution for nearly 9,600 New Yorkers

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and millions of New Yorkers across the five boroughs today celebrate the second anniversary of the City’s expanded Paid Sick Leave Law, which created the legal right to sick leave for 3.4 million private and nonprofit sector workers, nearly 1.2 million of whom did not previously have access to this vital workplace benefit. These employees can now take sick leave without fear of losing pay or their job, and nearly 9,600 employees have received restitution through the City’s enforcement of the Law.

“No parent should have to choose between a paycheck and caring for a sick child, and thanks to this law they don’t have to,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Two years ago today, a million New Yorkers in households across the five boroughs grew more secure, families were enabled to provide greater support to one another, and employers presided over a stronger workforce. Today, wages and employment are up, and our economy is stronger than ever. I thank the Department of Consumer Affairs for their extraordinary work supporting employees and business owners, and putting money back in the pockets of working New Yorkers,” Mayor de Blasio said.

“Forcing someone to work when they’re sick, or preventing someone from taking care of a loved one who is suffering, is bad for workers, families and employers. Denying the basic right of sick days makes the lives of those already struggling even harder. No one should have to choose between recovering from an illness or holding on to a job,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “That’s not how we treat one another in New York City. I’m proud that a million New Yorkers no longer face those kinds of disgraceful ultimatums. Laws like Paid Sick Leave are chipping away at inequality and strengthening our city.”

On April 1, 2014, the expanded version of the law signed by Mayor de Blasio went into effect, which added manufacturing workers, who had previously been exempted, as well as expanded the definition of covered family members to include grandparents, grandchildren and siblings. This amendment brought in an additional 500,000 workers, with a total of one million New Yorkers covered under the Law.

Since then, the Paid Sick Leave Law has helped nearly 9,600 employees receive restitution and ensured that thousands more are receiving sick leave as required by the law, while at the same time, the city's unemployment rate has continued to decline and the city has added more than 250,000 private sector jobs.

Fears of the law driving down wages or driving up costs have not come to pass. Wages in New York City industries most affected by the law – like retail, accommodation and food services – have grown faster or remained on par when compared to New York State, while inflation and the costs of eating out have risen more slowly than the national average. The law also does not appear to have negatively affected businesses; startups and small businesses have grown more quickly in New York City than the state as a whole, and the costs to businesses of hiring an additional employee have grown more slowly in NYC than the U.S. or the Northeast average.

“Since the beginning, DCA’s goal with the implementation and enforcement of paid sick leave was rooted in ensuring that both employers and employees knew about their rights and responsibilities under the law,” said Department of Consumer Affairs First Deputy Commissioner Alba Pico. “Those initial education efforts ensured that the law was smoothly implemented so that New Yorkers could care for themselves and loved ones when needed, while not sacrificing the vitality of our city’s small businesses.”

“A healthy workforce is a more productive workforce, which is good news for employers, employees and consumers across the five boroughs. The Department of Small Business Services is committed to working with our partner agencies to ensure that small business owners understand their responsibilities and have the support they need to comply with the Paid Sick Leave Law,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services.

New York City’s extensive, multi-phased education campaign reached more than six million New Yorkers in 26 languages, through extensive advertisements in subways, buses, and local and foreign-language print media, radio, and on television. DCA also participated in approximately 1,100 events where staff distributed more than 2 million brochures about paid sick leave. DCA has now closed approximately 700 paid sick leave cases, securing more than $1.7 million in paid sick leave fines and restitution. Additionally, through settlement agreements, DCA has ensured thousands more – many of whom are in low-wage professions such as security guards, home health aides, restaurant workers, and retail workers – are receiving sick leave as required by the law.

With the passage of New York City’s expanded Paid Sick Leave Law in 2014, the City of New York became the seventh jurisdiction in the country to enact a paid sick leave law. Following the passage of New York City’s law, momentum has continued to grow and now, more than two dozen additional jurisdictions have enacted laws giving workers access to paid sick leave. In October 2015, DCA held a national “Paid Sick Leave Symposium” in partnership with the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) to address the importance of paid sick leave laws, the challenges and best initiatives to implement these laws, and framed the paid sick leave movement from a national perspective. Leaders from 16 jurisdictions across the country attended the event and participated in discussions with keynote speakers, panel discussions, and practitioner workshops.

DCA continues to lead the nation on advocacy around the importance of paid sick leave. Recently, at the request and in support of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, the City of New York is serving as the lead amicus in the briefing on behalf of other jurisdictions with paid sick leave laws in a case before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit brought by construction industry employer groups who argue that the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law is preempted by the federal Labor Management Relations Act. DCA’s brief underscores that paid sick leave laws are critical to maintaining public health and promoting economic security, coexist harmoniously with collective bargaining and a strong unionized workforce, and New York City’s and other jurisdiction’s experience enforcing paid sick leave laws establishes that enforcement does not require the kind of interpretation that may trigger preemption under the Labor Management Relations Act.

Under the NYC Paid Sick Leave Law, employers with five or more employees who are hired to work more than 80 hours per calendar year in New York City must provide paid sick leave. Employees with fewer than five employees must provide unpaid sick leave. Accrual began April 1, 2014, or an employee’s first day of employment, whichever came later, and employees could begin using accrued leave 120 days after they began accruing leave. On the first day of employment, employers must provide the Notice of Employee Rights in English and, if available on the DCA website, their primary language. Domestic workers who have worked for their employer for more than one year must be provided two days of paid sick leave, which is in addition to the three days of paid rest under the New York State Labor Law.

Employers and employees can visit nyc.gov/PaidSickLeave or call 311 (212-NEW-YORK outside NYC) for more information, including upcoming events, the required Notice of Employee Rights, one-page overviews for employers and employees, FAQs, DCA’s paid sick leave training presentation, and the complaint form. DCA has also developed tools to help employers keep track of employees’ hours worked and sick leave used as well as model forms for verification of authorized sick time used, intention to use sick time and request to make up missed work as an alternative to using sick time.

“There’s no greater reward in government than seeing the changes that we’ve fought for make a difference in people’s lives,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “It’s been wonderful seeing our original law further strengthened and vigorously enforced in this administration. I thank the Mayor and the Department of Consumer Affairs for making paid sick leave education and enforcement a priority, winning restitution for thousands of New Yorkers, and creating better, healthier and fairer workplaces for millions of New Yorkers.”

“With paid sick leave, workers in New York City have been able to protect their health – as well as the health of their colleagues – and our businesses have thrived like never before,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Our City's success implementing this policy in a fair, proactive fashion demonstrates our ability to build an economy in which everyone has the opportunity to prosper.”

“As the sponsor of legislation that expanded paid sick leave to cover thousands of additional New Yorkers, I am proud of our City’s efforts to protect working families from having to choose between their paycheck and their health. And now, two years later, it is clear that the City did not have to make a choice between a healthy workforce and a strong economy. I thank the Mayor, the First Lady, and many others for their commitment to New Yorkers who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.

“Two years ago, New York City led the nation by implementing the Paid Sick leave law. Since then, more cities have followed our lead, standing up for the benefit of millions of employees, who should not have to decide between going to work and losing a day’s pay to take care of sick loved one. Paid sick leave is a critical step forward in our continued effort to address income inequality in New York City, and the Department of Consumer Affairs continues to do a remarkable job working with both employers and employees to ensure this law is a success across the five boroughs,” said Council Member Rafael L. Espinal, Jr, Chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee.

“The success of the Paid Sick Leave Law and the City’s growing economy proves that when employers take care of their employees, everyone benefits” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the Civil Service and Labor Committee. “In just two years we have seen this realization in the economic numbers and with the knowledge that those most vulnerable in our city now have the right to take care of their families without fear of losing their jobs. This is a testament to everyone who worked so hard to expand the law and I look forward to continuing this progress.”

"The Department of Consumer Affairs' commitment to small business education in its implementation of Paid Sick Leave has ensured that this policy is a win-win for all New Yorkers," said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., Chair of the Committee on Small Business. "This is a perfect example of how to meaningfully expand individual rights without harming our job creators."

Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer said, “I’m proud to have supported New York City’s landmark Paid Sick Leave legislation two years ago, and even more proud to see the impact this policy has had on our communities. No one should have to choose between buying groceries and caring for a sick child. In the past two years, mandatory paid sick leave has strengthened our families and brought greater dignity to our city.”

“DCA has conducted very effective outreach and management of Paid Sick Leave, and the relatively low level of complaints and penalties are a positive reflection on the agency and on New York City employers, who value their workers and treat them fairly,” said Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO of the Partnership for New York City.

"I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Consumer Affairs on the second anniversary of the Paid Sick Leave Law. It is important to appreciate how far we have come as a city. Where once New Yorkers had to choose between going to the doctor or losing a day's pay, now Paid Sick Leave is a right for all workers. Brooklyn Chamber members supported this law from the beginning, and the City has done an incredible job educating businesses and the public, as well as ensuring that employers follow it,” said Carlo Scissura, President of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

“After two successful years, it’s clearer than ever that paid sick leave has been a real step forward for New York City’s most vulnerable families. The extensive education and outreach work done by the Department of Consumer Affairs has helped thousands of low income and working New Yorkers exercise their rights by taking the time to care for themselves and their loved ones without risking their jobs. The fines and restitution secured by DCA since the law’s implementation are testament to the de Blasio administration’s continuing commitment to ensuring that all New Yorkers get the paid sick leave they’ve earned,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO of FPWA.

"Two years after the passage of paid sick leave we see how it has changed the lives of thousands of New Yorkers for the better," said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. "Not only do workers themselves benefit when they aren't forced to choose between their health and their paycheck but we all benefit from a law that ensures people can stay home when they're sick."

 “The passage and expansion of Paid Sick Days legislation in New York City were important achievements for our city's working people and their families. On the second anniversary of the enactment of Paid Sick Days, we recommit ourselves to our core belief that all working people should be treated with dignity and respect, as reflected in this legislation. It was – and continues to be – an important step in addressing the needs of New Yorkers who work hard and struggle to survive in this city,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of RWDSU.

"Two years ago, New York City took a real stand for the health and wellness of working families by enacting the Paid Sick Leave law," said Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. "As conditions for working people improve, so will our local economies. The New York City Central Labor Council remains committed to protecting and expanding initiatives designed to benefit the hardworking men and women who keep our city going.”

"On this 2nd Anniversary of the Paid Sick Leave law in NYC we congratulate Mayor Bill de Blasio and DCA First Deputy Commissioner Alba Pico and her staff on their outstanding job of implementation and enforcement of this law, a model for the 24 jurisdictions that have passed Paid Sick Leave after NYC. Partnering with the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in holding a national symposium in October, DCA provided the forum for discussion of challenges, and best practices in implementation and enforcement of Paid Sick Leave for the rest of the country, with NYC's model leading the way. DCA's lead on advocacy surrounding Paid Sick Leave will continue to spur its spread to more jurisdictions across the country, as we await a Congress that will pass a national Paid Sick Leave law,” said Donna Dolan, Executive Director of the New York Paid Leave Coalition and former co-Director of the NYC Paid Sick Days Campaign.

“For those of us who worked so hard to make paid sick leave a reality, nothing is more important than seeing the low-wage workers we fought to protect actually benefit and be able to take needed sick time without fear of losing their pay or jobs,” said Nancy Rankin, Vice President for Policy Research at Community Service Society. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the outstanding job the Administration is doing from a massive outreach campaign to responsible, robust enforcement.”

“A Better Balance has been proud to be part of outreach and education efforts around the Paid Sick Leave law in New York City and salutes the Mayor and the Department of Consumer Affairs for their commitment to enforcement of this law that is so important for working families,” said Sherry Leiwant, co-President and co-Founder of A Better Balance. “Most of all, we have been privileged to be able to help over 100 workers brave enough to come forward despite risks of retaliation to let us know about violations of the laws – they are true heroes without whom robust enforcement would not be possible.”

"Today we celebrate a key milestone in the effort to end worker exploitation in New York City," said Deborah Axt, co-Executive Director of Make the Road NY. "Two years ago today, the city's Paid Sick Leave legislation – won through true partnership of workers, responsible small businesses, community organizations, unions and elected officials – took effect. In the intervening years we have been blessed to partner with the City and DCA in particular on an unprecedented and impactful outreach and education effort to make sure workers are able to exercise their rights under this important law. We look forward to continuing to learn from the effort and to build on it in partnership with Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Consumer Affairs."

"No one in American should be forced to make the impossible choice between caring for a sick child and keeping your job. For two years now, New Yorkers can count on paid sick days when they need them," said Working Families Party New York State Director Bill Lipton. "The impact of the policy has been felt in every community, and there's no doubt that New York's passage of the Paid Sick Leave law has helped spur action across the county. Before too long, we'll all wonder what the big deal was. In the meantime, let's remember this law as a major victory for working people, public health and common sense."

“In celebrating the tremendous effect of paid sick leave in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has shown that low wage workers need not choose between health and work”, said Bruce Both, President of The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500. “In this instance we have a city that works for all.”

"On the second anniversary of the Paid Sick Leave law, we see in particular the enormously positive affects this has had on New York's immigrant communities," said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. "We thank the City of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Consumer Affairs for ensuring that New York's deserving workers get the restitution they deserve."


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