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Is NYC's Paid Sick Leave Bill a Good Idea?

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By Andrew Lu on March 29, 2013 10:07 AM

The New York City Council has reached a deal on a mandatory paid sick leave bill that would affect companies with 15 or more employees.

If the plan is approved, workers will be able to take five paid days off for illness each year. The bill could affect 1 million New York City workers who currently do not have paid sick leave at work, reports New York's WNBC-TV.

But while the bill may seem like a great idea for workers, employers who are already struggling have some concerns.

NYC's Proposed Sick Leave Bill

The bill would require that businesses with 20 or more employees provide five paid sick days per year to their workers beginning April 1, 2014. Businesses with 15 or more employees will be required to follow suit by October 1, 2015, reports WNBC.

To be eligible for paid sick leave, an employee must have worked for at least four months for the employer. Seasonal workers and work-study students would not be covered by the program.

Employers with fewer than 15 employees would only be required to provide five days of unpaid sick leave. In addition, all employers will be prohibited from taking adverse action like firing an employee for taking the allotted sick days.

Is the Bill a Good Idea?

The bill offers many obvious benefits to workers and even employers, for example:

  • Employees can rest and recuperate at home without fear of being fired or losing pay due to sickness.
  • Sick employees who use their paid sick time will not get other employees sick.
  • Employee morale may be improved.

However, the bill also comes with potential drawbacks. Here are some of the more pressing concerns for employers:

  • Five paid days off for a small employer could be a big deal, and some employers may not be able to afford it.
  • Employees could potentially abuse the system, and employers may be afraid to take disciplinary action given the prohibition on firing workers who take the leave.
  • Employers may have developed an individual sick leave policy for their company that will be overridden by the city's policy.

The City Council still has to vote on the bill, but a majority of them already indicated their support for it. You can follow further developments via the New York City Council's website.

New York City isn't the first to consider mandatory paid sick leave for workers. Similar laws are already on the books in Seattle; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C., according to The New York Times.

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