The current COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the urgent need for laws in New York State mandating comprehensive paid sick leave as well as emergency paid sick leave in the event of public health emergencies. In particular, the lack of paid sick leave disproportionately affects low-wage workers and women.

On March 16th, GetOrganizedBK and two of its working groups (Indivisible Nation BK and WHARR) joined over 75 other organizations urging the Governor and NYS Legislature to pass critical legislation without delay in order to protect the health and safety of all New Yorkers. Read the full letter, signed by organizations throughout the state, led by A Better Balance, NYCLU, National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Citizen Action of NY.

We are heartened that on March 18th, a bill was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor (S8091/A10153), putting into place emergency paid sick leave protections for New Yorkers under mandatory or precautionary quarantine due to COVID-19. We applaud the measures in this legislation, and we appreciate the speed and seriousness that the Governor and Legislature have given this matter. 

However, it is important to note that the bill’s emergency sick leave protections only apply during the current COVID-19 crisis, and will not cover future public health emergency situations. In addition, the bill does not include all emergency provisions identified in the original letter—including critical coverage for independent contractors and the self-employed, and the requirement that restaurants pay their workers minimum wage plus tips during the emergency time period.

The new legislation also omits measures to expand existing permanent provisions for paid sick leave, which had been included in a previous version of the bill (S8090/A10152). The Governor’s office has indicated that these permanent protections will instead be included in the budget. We will hold him to that, and will continue to fight for laws with additional paid sick leave measures. We urge the Governor and the New York State Legislature to institute more robust paid sick leave to protect all New Yorkers. 

For more information on the new emergency sick leave measures, see A Better Balance’s fact sheet on the new legislation.