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De Blasio Announces Plan To Guarantee Paid Vacation Time For Workers In NYC

Doesn't that look nice?
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Doesn't that look nice? SeaTops/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

New York City businesses with five or more employees may soon be required to offer workers two weeks of paid vacation time per year, if the City Council votes to approve proposed legislation announced Wednesday by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

(Contrary to the Wall Street Journal’s report today, the mayor’s office says that actual legislation has yet to be drafted, and will be done so in consultation with the City Council.)

The proposal would help roughly half a million full- and part-time employees working in the city who currently get no time off other than sick leave, according to the Mayor's Office. It would make New York the first city in the United States to mandate paid personal time—a benefit that's already on offer in at least 20 countries around the world.

"Workers across the nation have been working too hard without enough time to rest and recharge or enough time for family and important life events," the mayor said in a statement. "Every other major nation recognizes the necessity of Paid Personal Time. We as a country must get there, and New York City will lead the way."

The law would kick in after 120 days of employment, and comes in addition to the five paid sick days per year that most workers in New York City are eligible to receive under a 2014 law. It would allow employers to require up to two weeks' notice when requesting vacation time, with "reasonable exceptions for granting leave," according to a press release.

The Washington Post, which first reported on the announcement, notes that the plan is already drawing criticism among some conservatives. "Everyone wants employees to have a fair amount of vacation time, but one-size-fits-all government mandates tend to make it harder to hire, grow businesses, and create jobs," Michael Steel, a Republican operative who served as an aide to former House Speaker John A. Boehner, told the paper. “This sounds like that’s what this would do."

There are also some implementation questions. A spokesperson for Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who championed the paid sick leave policy, told Gothamist that it's currently unclear how the notice requirement would impact workers who need to take an unexpected day off, or what the mechanism for accruing time off would look like.

"There will be questions we'll need to work out, but all full-time employees deserve a basic minimum of paid time off," Brewer said.

A spokesperson for the Mayor's Office told Gothamist that accruing paid personal time will depend on a business's H.R. policies, and that "employers will have discretion at the end of the day" in granting time off requests. "If there is an employee who does feel as though they're not getting time off they deserve, [the Department of Consumer Affairs] would get involved," the spokesperson said.

The announcement comes one day after de Blasio unveiled a plan to provide access to health care for all city residents, which the mayor says could impact approximately 600,000 uninsured people when it goes into effect in a few years. The mayor will deliver his State of the City address on Thursday, at 11:00 a.m. at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space in Manhattan.

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