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Board Passes Earned Sick Leave For Workers In Westchester

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White Plains, NY — Workers in Westchester County who don’t get sick days off at work will soon be entitled to earn sick time on their jobs, thanks to a measure passed Monday night by the County Board of Legislators.


Under the measure, workers can earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year. The law doesn't limit the amount of sick time an employer may offer employees, but will cover the more than one-third of workers in Westchester who currently lack any paid sick time, and who may face retribution on their jobs if they take time off for illness.


The bill’s chief sponsor, Legislator Catherine Borgia (D - Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton-on-Hudson, Ossining, Peekskill) said, “By passing this legislation we say loudly and proudly to workers everywhere in Westchester County: your health, your well-being, matters. The protections we’re enshrining into law today are good for public health, good for business, and essential to worker safety and dignity. I’d like to thank all the advocates and union brothers and sisters who’ve stood in solidarity with all workers in the county and worked since 2015 to make this law a reality. They know that when people do their jobs in a safe environment, when they aren’t retaliated against for staying home sick, when they can care for their children’s illness, Westchester works better.”


Chairman of the Board Ben Boykin (D – White Plains, Harrison, Scarsdale) said, “Providing workers with earned sick time is important for human dignity and public health, but it’s also good for businesses. Research shows that when employees come to work sick or distracted by illnesses at home, their productivity drops off the table. And, of course, when workers come to work sick, there's a good likelihood that other workers will become sick, exponentially increasing the cost in human and financial terms.”


Majority Whip MaryJane Shimsky (D - Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Hartsdale, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington) said, “Fundamentally it's a pro-worker bill and a pro-family bill and even a pro-business bill, because it's a good public health bill. If someone is carrying a contageous diseases and is forced to come to work, the co-workers are more likely to become sick and the customers are more likely to become sick."


At a press event Monday afternoon, ahead of the evening vote, Sarah Leberstein, senior staff attorney and workplace justice coordinator for Make the Road New York, told the story of one woman who came to the group. "[She] wasn't allowed to take time off from her job at a dry cleaning business in Tarrytown either to go to pre-natal appointments when she was pregnant or medical appointments for any of her own kids and if she missed even a couple hours of work to go see a doctor, the owner of the business refused to pay her for the entire day of work," Leberstein said.


Pete Donohue, of Transport Workers Union Local 100, which first began advocating for this measure three years ago, said, “When unions, community groups, and politicians get together and work to the common good and start things on the grassroots level, we can get things done, and that's a very good development.”


Under the newly passed measure, sick time will be paid at businesses with five or more employees, but may be unpaid as smaller businesses.  Sick time may be taken for a workers’ own illness or to care for an ill family member. There are different thresholds for domestic workers who will earn a minimum of one hour of sick time for every seven days worked, in addition to the one day of rest provided for under state law.  There is also a procedure in the law for filing a complaint with the County’s Department of Consumer Protection.


The measure now goes to County Executive George Latimer for his signature.


Watch the press event here: https://bit.ly/2zKittJ


See vote here: https://bit.ly/2NWgpr6


(PICTURED ABOVE: Leg. Nancy Barr, Majority Whip MaryJane Shimsky, Vice Chair Alfreda Williams, Chair Ben Boykin, Legs. Catherine Borgia, Damon Maher and Christopher A. Johnson join advocates and supporters ahead of vote on Earned Sick Leave act)

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