Several amendments to the mandatory sick leave law unanimously passed the City Council’s Committee on Civil Service and Labor late last week and were passed by the full body Tuesday, the panel’s chairman, Councilman Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) announced.
The new version of the Earned Sick Time Act will replace one the Council passed last year over then–Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s veto. It will protect about 500,000 more workers than the old version by ensuring companies give them at least five days worth of paid sick leave each year, according to its proponents.
“This is the first step in passing a positive bill which will reach 500,000 working people,” Miller said in a prepared statement. “It will allow for parents, wives, husbands and children to continue providing for their families and maximize their productivity as employees.”
The bill passed last year was a compromise measure that put a smaller burden on businesses than the new one pending in the Council. It was less stringent than originally written because Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who was considered a leading candidate for mayor at the time, insisted on compromise elements before she would let the bill come to the floor.
The new version, promoted by Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), drops those compromises to expand guaranteed paid sick leave to more workers for more situations. Among the changes:
• Instead of applying only to companies with 15 or more employees, the new proposal would impact those with five or more. And instead of being phased in over time, with larger firms affected first and smaller ones a year and a half later, as originally planned, all businesses subject to the law would fall under the mandate starting April 1.
• Exemptions for the manufacturing sector that were in the original legislation also would be removed.
• People would be allowed to take paid time off to care for grandparents, grandchildren and siblings. The original bill only allowed paid leave for workers to assist spouses, children and parents, as well as themselves.
• The mandate would no longer be contingent on the economy’s performance. The original version had a clause that would put it on hold if the economy slipped, as measured by the Federal Reserve.
The mayor calls the new bill “a critical piece of progressive reform.”
“This is going to be one city, where everyone has a shot and rises together,” de Blasio said in a statement announcing the plan. “What we are putting forward today will fundamentally improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of working New Yorkers — especially families struggling just to get by. Beginning this year, getting sick will no longer mean losing a day’s pay, or potentially a job, in the city of New York.”
Not all the amendments were passed this week. Those that were would drop the manufacturing exemption; allow workers to accrue and carry over hours worked into the next year, with a cap at 40 hours; and require companies to inform both current and former employees of their rights under the act.
The three measures comprise Intro-1208. They had been added to the bill late last year but were vetoed by Bloomberg, on top of his veto of the main bill itself, so their passage is technically an override, Miller’s spokesman, Ali Rasoulinejad, pointed out.
The other amendments will go before the committee in a subsequent piece of legislation that is expected to be introduced shortly, according to Rasoulinejad.