This week, Mayor Bill de Blasio put forward a ground-breaking proposal to ensure that working New Yorkers have 10 days of paid personal time to spend with their families, meet needs outside of work and have a respite from the unrelenting daily grind of their jobs. The plan is modeled after New York City’s paid sick leave law, that was passed based on research and advocacy by CSS and a broad coalition. The Mayor’s proposal will require private sector employers of five or more workers to provide 10 days of paid leave, that both full and part-time workers will accrue during the year. The new leave will be in addition to paid sick time. If enacted, New York would become the first U.S. state or city to require paid vacation, something most developed nations already do.
The law would particularly benefit low-income and part-time workers, as well as employees in the retail sector and working for small firms with fewer than 15 employees. These workers are among those least likely to have any paid vacation at all now. CSS’s 2018 annual Unheard Third survey, which interviewed a random sample of 1,775 city residents, found that among those who would be covered by the new measure, barely a third (34 percent) of the working poor had paid vacation from their employers compared to 90 percent of employees with incomes above 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Just more than half of private sector employees in businesses with 5 to 14 employees reported having paid vacation, while 80 percent of those working for employers of 50 or more did. And only a third of part-time employees who would be covered by the proposal now have paid vacation compared to over 80 percent of full-time workers. [See attached chart.]
In addition to advancing paid personal leave, the Mayor announced a series of steps to strengthen labor standards enforcement in New York City, starting with expanding the mandate of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and renaming it the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. That makes sense. DCA has had a strong track record in actively enforcing paid sick leave and other city labor standards. Initiatives include an innovative program to resolve disputes involving paid caregivers and other domestic workers. The city will also step up efforts to protect independent and freelance workers, a growing segment of the 21st century workforce.
CSS has been outspoken in emphasizing the need for outreach and enforcement to make sure that progressive labor standards actually benefit the workers they were designed to help, especially the most vulnerable low-wage and immigrant workers [see Expanding Workers’ Rights, by Nancy Rankin and Irene Lew, January 2018]. We strongly support the measures announced today that will put New York City at the forefront of strengthening and enforcing workers’ rights.