In the first two years of this session, the Council enacted several pieces of legislation to protect the health and wages of New York City’s workers. These included expanding Paid Sick Time and creating an Office of Labor Standards.
“This historic investment in Day Labor Centers is a meaningful step to raise and enforce robust labor standards in an informal sector with non-traditional employment relations.”
Ligia Guallpa, Worker’s Justice Project
In the first year of our term, we strengthened the Earned Sick Time Act (“Paid Sick Time”) by expanding the number of businesses covered by the law to those with five or more employees, eliminating some exemptions, providing for a grace period for fines against newly covered businesses, and calling for proactive investigations by the City.
Last fall, we created the Office of Labor Standards, which will study and make recommendations for worker education, safety and protection; educate employers on labor laws; create public education campaigns regarding worker rights; and collect and analyze labor statistics. The Office also has the authority to enforce paid sick time and the commuter benefits program, in addition to other responsibilities that may be added over time.
The Council allocated $500,000 to the Day Laborer Initiative for the expansion and development of centers for these workers. These funds provide for dignified meeting spaces for day laborers, referrals to job or support services, legal help to address problems such as wage theft, as well as workforce training and development.
We also passed legislation that requires employers with 20 or more workers to offer a commuter benefits program. Commuter benefit programs allow employees to set aside part of their pre-tax paycheck for transit expenses, saving them hundreds of dollars per year. With this new legislation, as many as 450,000 more New Yorkers will have access to these benefits.