Despite resistance from Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Quinn, after three years of attempts, the New York City Council appears poised to enact a law that would guarantee 5 days of sick leave to millions of employees working in New York City. According to a press release issued by City Council, the New York City Paid Sick Time Act provides that: “that no New Yorker will face the threat of losing their livelihood for taking a day off work because they are sick.” In addition to guaranteeing 5 days of sick leave, the bill also prohibits an employer from retaliating against any employees who take sick leave. However, there are a few concessions to employers that were required to get this legislation passed:
- The bill will not go into effect until April 1, 2014 at the earliest and then only for business with 20 or more employees. Beginning October 1, 2015, businesses with 15 or more employees will be required to comply with the act. HOWEVER, the law provides a “reverse trigger” that will prevent the bill from taking effect if the economy “unexpectedly worsens” and Quinn did not make clear how this will be measured.
- The Department of Consumer Affairs will be responsible for enforcement of the bill and workers will have 9 months to file a complaint with the Department and employers that violate the act will be subject to escalating fines starting at $500. While an earlier version of the bill provided for an 18-month private right of action (meaning that employees could sue their employer directly for any violations), some members of City Council strongly opposed that provision and it does not appear in the final version of the bill. An employee will only be able to pursue a lawsuit to challenge a decision from the Department.
While Mayor Bloomberg has announced that he intends to veto the bill, City Council likely has enough votes to override the mayor’s veto. Many expect that this bill will serve as a model for other cities around the country.
[UPDATE 5/9/2013] On May 8, 2013, City Council passed the sick leave bill by a 45-3 margin. While Mayor Bloomberg has promised to veto the bill, Speaker Quinn has indicated that the mayor’s veto would be overridden. [NYTimes]
If you are an employee that has questions about the New York City Paid Sick Time Act, you can contact us for additional information or resources.