Nearly all New York City workers would be entitled to paid personal time off under legislation that is being considered by City Council.
Mayor Bill de Blasio touted paid personal time as a signature piece of his State of the City address in January after the city found that roughly 900,000 New Yorkers currently lack a single day of paid personal time. On Tuesday, City Council was expected to hear the bill. To drive support for the legislation, de Blasio spoke at a City Hall rally that was also attended by activists Gloria Steinem and Jumaane Williams.
“Working people have been working longer and harder with very little to show for it,” de Blasio said.
“Too many people in this city aren’t guaranteed any time off – not a single day. That means choosing between earning a paycheck and your kid’s dance recital, helping your parent move into a nursing home, or that vacation you’ve been saving for. That’s not what New York City is about. Hardworking New Yorkers deserve more and we’re going to ensure they get it.”
The bill requires private employers with five or more employees or one or more domestic workers to offer 10 annual days of paid personal time, allowing employees to take paid time off for any purpose, including religious observances, bereavement and time with family.
Employees would begin to accrue hours immediately after employment, earning one hour of paid personal time for every 30 hours worked. Workers would have access to these days off 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 of paid personal time.
“All workers deserve to live their lives with dignity and respect,” Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Lorelei Salas said in a press release. “Workers deserve time to rest, spend time with family, or attend important life events without the fear of losing a day’s pay or, worse, their job. Balance between work and personal life is critical to the overall health of New York City’s economy and our ability to thrive.”
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.
According to the World Health Organization, workplace burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy. Several European nations already offer paid personal time, as do Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
“We are behind other nations in forcing this impossible choice between, say, attending a parent-teacher conference or a funeral and losing a job, just as we are also behind in childcare and other areas,” Steinem said. “But with New York City taking the lead, I have confidence that others will follow.”
NYC Paid Personal Time at a glance
-Anyone with a W-2 working for a business with 5 or more employees would be eligible.
-There are 1 million workers in NYC retail, food service, hotels and corporate offices who don’t get paid time off.
-A lack of paid time off impacts 1 in 4 middle income workers.
-Since 1973, American workers’ productivity has risen more than 6 times the rate of workers’ wages.
-City officials cite economists’ claim that productivity increases when workers have paid time off.
-Paid Personal Time aims to give workers the chance to pursue self care and happier lives.