When New York’s City Council approved paid sick leave legislation last year, then-Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio tweeted, “The final #paidsickdays bill excludes over 300,000 NYers & took far too long. I intend to keep fighting for these New Yorkers left behind.”
Now in his third week as Mayor, de Blasio intends to make good on that promise.
New York’s sick leave law, which mandates that companies with over 15 employees five days’ paid leave annually, gained final approval last summer. But it faced opposition from both sides. The council had to override the veto of pro-business Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I), who claimed paid sick leave was a strain on businesses and would hamper growth. Meanwhile, sick leave advocates on the left, like de Blasio, said the law didn’t go far enough: It left out smaller businesses and didn’t fully go into effect until October of 2015.
On Friday, de Blasio plans to reveal a proposal that would expand the law to include businesses with five or more employees, according to the New York Times. With the support of the City Council Speaker, the effort is likely to pass. That would put New York closer to the requirements of other big American cities with paid sick leave legislation, such as San Francisco or Washington, D.C..
De Blasio has clearly taken up the mantle of progressive champion, and his move to adjust paid sick leave laws, one of the first actions he has taken as mayor, indicates he is serious about following that up with policy. Paid sick leave laws have slowly but surely been gaining a foothold among Democratic states and cities in the United States. Most recently, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Vermont have taken on the fight.
But it’s not all good news. Conservative-leaning states including Michigan and Mississippi, led by the conservative legislation-crafting group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), are creating so-called “pre-emption” laws that limit the ability of a given municipality to pass its own sick leave legislation.
Sick leave laws have proven to been good for both business and public health. Where paid sick leave is lacking, low-income people are most likely to be effected. Eighty percent of low-income workers can’t take a paid day off if they or their families get sick.