This morning New York City became the fifth U.S. city – and the largest – to guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick days on the job.
More than 1 million people will be covered by the new law. Employees of businesses with 20 or more workers can earn up to five paid sick days a year beginning in April 2014; at enterprises with 15 to 19 workers, paid sick days will kick in by October 2015. Smaller businesses are required to provide five unpaid sick days per year, meaning that workers couldn’t get fired for using those days.
The victory comes after a three-year marathon effort. New York’s paid sick days bill was first introduced on August 20, 2009. A little after 2 a.m. today it reached the finish line, when the New York City Council overrode Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s previous veto of the legislation – with a stronger vote than its original passage, by a margin of 47-4.
Four other cities and one state have already established similar laws: San Francisco, CA; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; Washington, DC; and Connecticut. The Healthy Tacoma coalition is working with local leaders to introduce paid sick days legislation in that city as well.