As pledged during his campaign, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill into law Thursday requiring more city businesses to offer paid sick leave to their employees. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
With the stroke of not one, but several, pens, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a dramatic expansion of paid sick leave benefits for New Yorkers into law Thursday.
Starting April 1, all businesses in the five boroughs with five or more employees will have to provide paid sick leave. Employees will be covered if they are staying home because they are ill or they are taking care of a sick relative.
"I say to the half million more people who will be reached by this law that my fellow New Yorkers, I say because of this law, starting on this April 1, less than two weeks from now, you will have a new fundamental right," de Blasio said.
The legislation was fast-tracked in the City Council earlier this year. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is a close ally of the mayor's.
"There's been an atmosphere of partnership from day one," de Blasio said. "We knew this was important to get done, and get done quickly."
"We're ensuring that no one will have to choose between a job and their health, no parent will have to choose between caring for a child and putting food on the table," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
The legislation expands the paid sick leave law that the City Council passed last year. That only applied to business with 15 or more workers, and it would have been phased in more slowly.
Critics have argued that the new expansion was rushed and that outreach to small businesses has been insufficient.
The mayor broke with tradition for the event. Instead of a bill-signing ceremony at City Hall, he opted to hold it at a building in East Williamsburg that is home to small food manufacturers.
"I'm interested in being out where the people are and really exemplifying what each piece of legislation means for people," de Blasio said.
The city's Department of Consumer Affairs is in charge of educating small businesses about the legislation as well as enforcing the new regulations. The agency, though, does not have a commissioner right now, as de Blasio has yet to appoint one.