First Lady, Public Advocate Rally With Workers to Call For Passage of Paid Personal Time
By Wenyun Felicia Guo September 9, 2019
Advocates call for passage of historic legislation to make New York City the first in nation to guarantee 10 days paid time off
NEW YORK—First Lady Chirlane McCray, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson, and Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Lorelei Salas were joined by workers from a diverse group of labor organizations today to call for the passage of Paid Personal Time. No state or city in the nation currently guarantees paid personal time off for private sector employees, and passing this historic legislation would continuing to elevate New York City as a leader in the fight for workers’ rights. Attendees included the 32BJ SEIU Workers’ Justice Project, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Nail Salon Workers Association, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, and faith and local leaders.
“Nearly one million New Yorkers are forced to choose between a paycheck and taking a much needed break to care for themselves and their families. That’s simply unacceptable,” said Mayor de Blasio. “It’s long past due that hardworking New Yorkers get the days off they’ve earned. Workers, advocates, and I all agree: it’s time to pass paid personal time.”
“Too many New Yorkers are in an impossible struggle for time, often having to choose between their paycheck and their well-being,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Paid personal time is a fundamental right and is an essential component of a happy, healthy life. For the first time, it is within our reach. We urge the City Council to continue standing up for working people by passing this legislation into law.”
“It's critical that we acknowledge the reality that working people are too often overworked and undervalued,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that doesn't guarantee some level of paid leave. After five years since I introduced this legislation—and the many decades of tireless advocacy by working people that led us to this point—we must work with all stakeholders to seize this moment and create transformational change so all New Yorkers have a well-deserved break.”
“The absence of paid time off doesn’t just affect the worker, it affects the children, and the health and well-being of the whole community,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “The fight for paid time off is part of our pursuit for a true democracy, with its promise of justice and opportunity for all. If we want the most vulnerable people of this City to do well, and the City as a whole to advance, we can’t balance our books on the backs of those who are struggling the most.”
“It’s time we protect workers and pass paid personal time to give New Yorkers the break they need and deserve,” said DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “A million people do not have one single day to take for themselves and even more can have their paid personal time stripped away at any moment. I have been fortunate enough to have paid personal time for my last four jobs but for many years when I worked in retail, food service, and as a nanny, I didn’t have any time. I know we can work with businesses to ensure smooth implementation and be the city that can show our country that our workers can have this leave and businesses can continue to thrive.”
Paid Personal Time legislation, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, would mandate private employers with five employees or more or one or more domestic workers to offer 10 annual days of paid personal time per year. The Mayor made Paid Personal Time a central component of his State of the City address in January, and the bill was first heard by the City Council in May.
Providing paid personal time for workers in overwhelmingly popular. A recent poll by the Community Service Society found that 80% of New Yorkers support requiring businesses to provide at least 10 days of paid personal time, with 70% of New Yorkers strongly supporting.
While the legislation is pending City Council passage, almost one million New Yorkers continue to go without a single day of paid personal time. Research has shown that paid time off helps increase productivity, strengthens families, helps prevent burnout and improves employee retention. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not mandate any paid time off, including paid holidays. Nationally, one in four full-time, middle-income workers gets no paid time off at all.
Workers in New York City with no paid time off include:
33 percent of full-time workers and 75 percent of part-time workers62 percent of low-income workers36 percent of middle-income workers110,000 retail workers200,000 professional and business services workers250,000 accommodation and food service workers
Like the groundbreaking Paid Safe and Sick Leave legislation, this policy would be implemented and enforced by the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP). When the legislation passes, New York City will be the first city in the nation to mandate paid personal time for workers allowing employees to take paid time off for any purpose, including religious observances, bereavement and time with family.
The City has ensured the legislation includes mandates to protect businesses and address employer concerns. The legislation currently covers the same universe of businesses with 5 or more employees, or one or more domestic workers, covered by the Mayor’s 2014 legislation expanding Paid Safe and Sick Leave and has similar provisions to make it easier for businesses to implement. Employees would begin to accrue hours immediately after employment, earning one hour of paid personal time for every 30 hours worked. Employees would be able to begin to accruethe benefit after 90 days of employment and after working at least 80 hours. Any unused paid personal time could be carried over to the following year for a total maximum of 10 days. The bill currently allows employers to make changes to their leave policy as long as it complies with the legislation. Employers could require up to two weeks’ notice and have reasonable exceptions for granting leave to prevent too many workers from taking simultaneous leave.