MYD Paid Sick Leave Testimony

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Today the Manhattan Young Democrats officially submitted testimony to the New York City Council in support of the Paid Sick Leave bill.  The bill would require employers to provide a certain amount of paid sick time per year to their employees.

Last year MYD members voted to endorse the Paid Sick Leave bill and we are proud to submit testimony in support of the bill today.

You can read the full text of our testimony below.  Special thanks to Saqib Bedi, Amanda Perez and Cynthia Salim who all contributed to it.

The Manhattan Young Democrats would like to thank Chairman Nelson and the members of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor for the opportunity to present this testimony in support of Intro. 97, also known as the Paid Sick Leave bill.

The Manhattan Young Democrats is an all-volunteer membership organization comprised of over 250 progressive young professionals and is the official youth arm of the Democratic Party in New York County.  It is as an organization dedicated to educating, activating, and advocating for this city’s youth that we testify today.  As we will outline in our testimony, we support this paid sick leave legislation because we believe it will play a critical role in building and sustaining a healthy, productive workforce – particularly for younger workers.

Young adults are more likely to be employed in low-wage jobs that do not allow them to earn paid sick leave.  Nearly 60 percent of low-wage workers—those making less than $10 per hour—are under the age of 35[i].  These jobs in retail stores, restaurants, and other service industries, for example, are the jobs that young people commonly hold while trying to gain a foothold in our city.  Not having access to paid sick leave can significantly affect their ability to make ends meet in the short term, as well as their ability pursue long term educational and professional development goals[ii].  Young adults are also more likely to need time off to care for young children, and yet as low-wage workers, they are twice as likely to face workplace threats for taking necessary time off[iii].  As a result, young, hard-working New Yorkers are often unfairly forced to make the difficult choice between good health and financial security.

Some claim that paid sick leave would burden struggling businesses in a weak economy.  Multiple studies have shown, however, that paid sick leave policies actually benefit businesses by reducing employee turnover, improving productivity, and preventing the spread of illness in the workplace.  When paid sick leave legislation was implemented in San Francisco, total employment increased by 3.5 percent between 2006 and 2010 while employment in five similar neighboring counties fell by 3.4 percent overall.  Two-thirds of San Francisco employers now support the city’s paid sick leave ordinance, and reports show that profits have not declined as a result of the law[iv].

Arguments against this legislation also fail to consider the public health consequences of our failure to institute paid sick leave requirements.  Studies show that a lack of paid sick leave is associated with an 18 percent increase in the spread of illness at work, since many employees would rather go to work sick than miss a day’s pay.  In a city that relies so heavily on mass transit, this public health risk is exacerbated, and it is one that we cannot afford to take.  It is also important to note that industries which lack paid sick leave often do not exist in isolation.  The classic case of a young restaurant worker who is forced to come in sick and subsequently handles our food is a clear example of how the lack of a paid sick leave requirement poses a public health risk.

 With an overwhelming three quarters of New Yorkers in support of paid sick leave[v] —including a majority of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats—it is clearly time for the council to put the bill to a vote.  As young people, we put faith in our democratic process and expect our elected officials to deliver on their commitment to public service above all else.  To continue to delay this vote would be a great disservice to the most economically disadvantaged in our community.  We ask that you recognize the urgency of voting on and passing this bill as it has immediate implications for so many people – people who simply cannot afford to wait.

New York City must live up to its reputation as both a beacon for ambitious young people and a national leader on progressive issues.  The lack of a sick leave policy stands in the way of young New Yorkers’ ambitions to build their careers, families, and lives.  We ask that the council pass the Paid Sick Leave bill as soon as possible.

Thank you again for the opportunity to present testimony on this important issue.


[i]       John Schmitt and Janelle Jones. “Low-wage Workers Are Older and Better Educated than Ever”

[ii]       Nancy Rankin. “Still Sick in the City: What the Lack of Paid Sick Leave Means for Working New Yorkers”. January 2012.

[iii]      Jeremy Reiss and Nancy Rankin, with Krista Pietrangelo. SICK IN THE CITY: What the Lack of Paid Leave Means for Working New Yorkers. October 2009.

An Analysis of Eight Years of Findings from The Unheard Third

[iv]           San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance: Outcomes for Employers and Employees. Robert Drago and Vicky Lovell, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2011.

[v]            Polling Data from Sick in the City: New Yorkers at Every Income Level Support Paid Sick Days, A Better Balance and CSS (October 2009)