One of the many debates in our country is that of paid sick leave. Many companies in the past used to use vacation days to cover when a worker was ill – that is, if they even offered it. However, in 2014, New York City created the “Paid Sick Leave” Law which stated that covered employees have the right to sick leave to tend to themselves or an ill family member. The Department of Consumer Affairs drafted up a page to show the rules and regulations that employers had to follow under this new law. They are posted and updated on the regular on the official website. The law helped to protect employees from losing wages or receiving punishment due to their health. Employers are required to keep record of the dates used and are not allowed to retaliate if an employee use these days. Since New York state is an “at-will” state, it helped to ensure that employers were simply not seeking revenge.
As the years have passed though the law seemed to be unenforced. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio signed a bill that established an Office of Labor Standards on November 30th of this year. It was one of nine that the Mayor signed that day. The bill will be enforced by a Director that is hand picked by him. The bill has outlined what the Office will be set out to accomplish once established. They will be responsible for “study[ing] and mak[ing] recommendations for worker education, safety and protection, educat[ing] employers on labor laws, creat[ing] public education campaigns regarding worker rights, and collect[ing] and analyz[ing] labor statistics.”
The Office will also be allowed to enforce the City’s Earned Sick Act as well. It will be able to receive complaints or concerns relating to the Act and open investigations against alleged violations. An employer will be allowed appeal orders from the Office after the investigation has completed during an administrative hearing process. This will help to protect employers against a disgruntled employee.
Speaking to the press, the mayor was quoted as saying the following: “This bill is a huge step forward in protecting vulnerable workers and strengthening our workforce,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Office of Labor Standards will ensure rules, regulations, and laws designed to improving working conditions are enforced properly, and that workers and businesses know and understand those laws. I want to thank Speaker Speaker Mark-Viverito, and Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, Council Member Miller
The Sick Time Act and this new ruling are a reflection of a trend of municipal rulings in regards to paid leave. It forces employers to stay up to date with their local laws and rulings. The act has paved ways for other paid leave, which has now been followed by Paid Parental Leave for city employees. We will have to keep our eyes peeled to see how these bills are enforced in the New Year.