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NYTimes

NY and Federal Government Pass Paid Sick Leave

A week ago we didn't know

Kris LaGrange's picture
Mar 20, 2020

This week we released a scare story that was meant to inspire change. It highlighted the fact that there is not a federal paid sick leave policy, meaning that millions of Americans could lose their jobs if they get sick with coronavirus. When we wrote this 11 states and the District of Columbia had a paid leave policy. Not to say that our story had a huge impact on it, but since then there has been major progress. Coronavirus has gotten worse and New York and the federal government have acted.

This week, in a three-party deal the New York Assembly and Senate passed and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed paid family leave into law. Below is a summary of the new law from the Long Island Federation of Labor’s President John Durso:

Included in today's agreement is the comprehensive paid sick leave policy Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed in the FY 2020-2021 Executive Budget:

  • Employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million will provide at least 5 days of unpaid sick leave each year.
  • Employers with 5-99 employees and employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million will provide at least 5 days of paid sick leave each year.
  • Employers with 100 or more employees will provide at least 7 days of paid sick leave each year.

The Congress also took action on paid sick leave, passing a comprehensive plan to not only create a government-funded sick leave policy but also to fund coronavirus tests and emergency room visits. However, the federal bill, which Trump signed, only covers workers at businesses with less than 500 employees and it allows businesses with less than 50 employees to drop out of the program. This is because it requires the company to pay the employees while they are out sick and then get reimbursed by the federal government. McDonald’s also played a major role in lobbying Republicans to institute a cap on the business size. While the federal bill gives employees 10 weeks of paid leave it is only for coronavirus related issues like someone getting sick with the virus or having to be quarantined. The paid sick leave law also is temporary and expires at the end of the year.

If this pandemic has shown us anything it is that we need a comprehensive sick leave policy to cover the 25% of working adults who have no paid leave and the countless others who have inadequate leave. Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for the rest of the nation.

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