This morning the New York City Council will hold a hearing on legislation to guarantee paid sick days to all working New Yorkers. The measure has been pending for several years with repeated compromises to address the concerns of employers. While the legislation is backed by 83 percent of New Yorkers and has strong enough support on the City Council to override a mayoral veto, Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn has so far refused to permit a vote, citing concerns about how small companies will deal with the requirement that their employees be permitted to earn up to five paid days off a year to recover from illness or care for a sick loved one.
In testimony I submitted to the Council today, I argue that this concern is misplaced: the concrete evidence of how this policy has operated in practice in the other jurisdictions where it has been implemented strongly suggests that guaranteeing paid sick days does not harm employment or the growth of small businesses. Here’s an excerpt from Demos’ testimony:
Let me begin by saying something we all know: everybody gets sick. At one time or another, even the heartiest and healthiest among us catches a nasty bug, gets an infection, or needs medical attention because of an accident. We’re human beings, and most of us also have parents or spouses or children or another loved one who depends on us in a case of medical emergency or temporary illness. Yet an estimated 1.58 million working New Yorkers primarily low-income workers, cannot take a single day off work to recuperate or care for a sick loved one without missing a paycheck. The result is a more fearful and precarious labor force, just one illness away from slipping into poverty – or from slipping deeper into poverty. Is that the city we want to be?
We don’t have to be that city, if the Council finally votes on, and passes, the Paid Sick Time Act.
Continue reading the testimony here.