The April 1 passage of New York City’s Earned Sick Time Act—known widely as the Paid Sick Leave Law—is a major victory for city workers, stemming from legislation I introduced and championed as a member of the City Council.

Because of this law, the city’s 3.4 million private-sector workers now have the fundamental right to a paid day off when they or a family member falls ill. This includes 1.2 million workers who had no access to paid sick time prior to the original law’s passage.

Before this law went into effect, the city’s lack of paid sick leave disproportionately affected low-income workers, minorities, and women. Now, all New Yorkers can rest assured that a sick day won’t cost them wages or their job.

The law covers full- and part-time employees; temporary, per diem, and transitional jobs program employees; undocumented workers; employees who are family members but not owners; and employees who live outside of New York City but work in the city.

How the law works for employees How the law works for employers
  • Employees accrue 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of sick leave per calendar year.
  • Existing employees at the time of the law’s passage on April 1 began accruing sick leave and can begin using accrued sick leave on July 30.
  • New employees begin accruing sick leave on their first day of employment and can begin using accrued sick leave 120 days after their first day of employment.
  • Workers can use the leave time for various purposes: caring for one’s own needs or that of a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, or the child or parent of a spouse or domestic partner.
  • Employers with 5 or more employees who work more than 80 hours per calendar year in New York City must provide paid sick leave.
  • Employers with 1 to 4 employees who work more than 80 hours per calendar year in New York City must provide unpaid sick leave.
  • Employers with 1 or more domestic workers who have worked for the employer for at least a year and who work more than 80 hours a calendar year must provide 2 days of paid sick leave.

Paid sick leave has many benefits beyond supporting workers financially:

It improves health outcomes. Workers without paid sick days are 1.5 times more likely than those with paid sick days to report going to work with a contagious illness. In workplaces with paid sick days, the spread of flu is reduced nearly 6%.

It reduces healthcare costs. If all workers had paid sick days, an estimated 1.3 million emergency room visits could be prevented each year, saving $1.1 billion in healthcare costs annually.

It reduces turnover. Employers benefit by reducing the costs associated with replacing workers.

It boosts the economy. Research has shown that 7 paid sick days per year per worker would net a savings of $160 billion annually.

It takes many hands to pass legislation like this. The New York Paid Leave Coalition partners have been with us from the start to ensure the law’s success. Organizations such as A Better Balance,Make the Road, and A Center for Popular Democracy were also esential allies, fielding calls from employers and workers seeking information about the law.

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) has done a terrific job at providing employers and workers with necessary information for compliance, reaching out to business and commerce groups to train employers in multiple languages, answer their questions, and hear their concerns.

The task at hand is to get out the message that eligible workers can use sick time accrued from this law starting on July 30.