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New York City Mayor Seeks Paid Vacation Law for Private Workers

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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed requiring private businesses with five or more employees to give at least 10 days of paid vacation a year, a step that would extend the benefit to about 500,000 full-and part-time workers who currently don’t have it.

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The law would guarantee two weeks paid vacation or personal time to every employee, including the thousands of airport workers, apartment-building doormen, retail workers and others without compensated days off. It would require approval by the 51-member city council, where it would have broad support among a Democratic majority that has already pushed the mayor to budget more than $100 million for half-fare discounts to some of the city’s poor on subways and buses.

It would apply to the same workers covered by the city’s 2014 legislation guaranteeing five days of paid sick leave after 120 days of employment. Unused personal time could be carried over to the following year, with workers giving employers at least two weeks notice. The mayor said the law would be the first of its kind in the U.S. and was needed to help families and to preserve the public’s health.

“New Yorkers need a break,” de Blasio said during a City Hall news conference Wednesday. “It’s bad for your physical health. It’s bad for your mental health. It’s no way to live.”

The mayor’s proposal amounts to “another example of municipal overreach into the city’s private sector,” said Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, a civic association of corporate chief executives. “More than a third of the businesses that would be most threatened by this new mandate are owned by immigrants, a group that the mayor champions. Many are struggling retailers, who are facing rising rents and online competition.”

De Blasio said the city’s law would be similar to those enacted in many of the world’s industrialized nations, including the U.K., France, Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan and Italy.

Paid Medical and Family Leave

New York state and many other states have adopted paid medical and family leave laws in recent years.

The medical and family leave laws provide at least some pay for eligible workers who take time off because of their own illness, or to care for sick relatives.

For insurers, the family leave laws have represented an opportunity to sell stand-alone insurance arrangements, and additions to existing group disability plans, designed to help employers cope with the new requirements.

What This Means for Agents and Brokers

Insurers offer medical and family leave plans partly because the likelihood that workers will take that kind of leave in a given year is relatively low. The high likelihood that workers will take vacations may discourage insurers from helping employers insure against vacation pay costs.

But new vacation pay requirements would add to the affected employers’ absence management administrative burden.

Many companies in the group disability and plan administration markets have built large absence management operations in recent years. A wave of new vacation pay laws could help producers sell more absence management services.

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