The New York City Council this afternoon voted 46-to-5 to expand the Earned Sick Time Act, giving a total of 1.2 million New York City workers the ability to care for their health and the health of their families without having to sacrifice their pay. Under the new law, all businesses with at least five employees must provide workers with five paid sick days a year. The bill also contains measures to include manufacturing workers previously excluded under the prior version of the act, and expands the categories of family members whom employees are allowed to take time off to care for.

“This important legislation will improve the health, well-being and financial stability of working families in New York City,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “For low-wage workers, a single day without pay can mean hungry children or unpaid rent. Paid sick days are fundamental to addressing the challenges faced by the city’s most vulnerable communities.”

While these expanded provisions are a critical step in the right direction, there are still concerns regarding the law’s impact on shift workers whose ability to exercise their right to paid sick time may be compromised under the “changing schedule” provision, and the inability of workers to enforce their right to paid sick leave in court. The NYCLU hopes that once this law goes into effect, the city’s leaders will revisit these issues with an eye towards further strengthening the law.

The newly expanded law goes into effect April 1, and negates the graduated effective date that was passed last spring.