Although federal legislation is not likely in the short term, several states and cities have passed laws creating paid family leave and paid sick days programs. Connecticut created the first statewide paid sick days program in 2011, follow by California and Massachusetts in 2014. Today, 19 cities have also passed paid sick days laws mandating paid time off for workers when they are ill or when they need to care for a sick child or other family member.
Business lobbyists contend that such programs are costly to firms, especially smaller businesses, lead to job losses, and invite widespread abuse. Sociologist Ruth Milkman and economist Eileen Appelbaum have studied this issue with regard to both California's paid family leave program and Connecticut's paid sick days law. In both cases, they found that the fears articulated by organized business interests were overstated.
Milkman and Appelbaum will extend their research to focus on a third case, namely the New York City paid sick days law that went into effect on April 1, 2014. The NYC law extends access to paid sick days to an estimated 1.2 million private-sector employees, more than 3 times the number of workers affected by the Connecticut law. This study will consist of: 1) a telephone survey of a stratified random sample of at least 250 covered employers in NYC focusing on their experiences with the new paid sick days law; and 2) site visits and in-depth interviews with a convenience sample of 30 employers across the five boroughs, of various sizes and in a range of industries, to probe in more detail the ways in which the new law is functioning on the ground.