On Wednesday, the New York City Council overwhelmingly passed an expansion to its paid sick days law, with 46 members voting in favor and just five against.
The expansion means that about 300,000 workers will now have access to a paid day off when they or a family members get sick, as the law will apply to all workers in businesses with five or more employees. They will be able to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick leave a year. The expanded law will also include a wider range of relatives, including grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings, among those for whom a worker can take a day off when they fall ill. New Yorkers will also be able to start accruing the leave come April 1, even though the original bill wouldn’t have gone into effect until October 2015.
After a long battle to get then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D) to bring the paid sick days law to a vote, it passed last year and the Council overrode a veto from then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg to put it into law. But that version only applied to businesses with 15 workers or more and exempted manufacturing companies. As one of his first priorities upon assuming office, New York City’s current mayor, Bill de Blasio (D), proposed expanding the law.
New York is the largest city with paid sick days, but six others similarly guarantee nearly all workers can take a paid day for illness, as does the state of Connecticut. Washington, D.C. also recently expanded its law to cover tipped workers, who were originally left out. D.C.’s experience with its current law has proven that many critics who claim paid sick days are an unbearable cost for businesses don’t need to be concerned. It hasn’t encouraged area businesses to relocate or to reconsider locating in the city. Other cities have found that job growth and business growth were stronger after their laws went into effect.