By Andrea Romano
March 05, 2019
People having picnics in Central Park, New York City
Credit: Andrey Gatash/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has a new plan for getting citizens to take well-deserved time off.

More than half of Americans in 2018 say they had not taken a vacation in over a year, according to one study. And there are many reasons why U.S. workers may choose not to take the time off that they are allowed.

Some people say that they’re simply saving up for a bigger vacation, while others say they choose not to leave work because they’re afraid of things piling up. And, particularly for Millennial workers, they fear their bosses may be indirectly “shaming” them for taking time off, leading to feelings of guilt or fear at the idea of going on a yearly vacation.

All of these things add up to a whopping 653.9 million vacation days that went unused by American workers in 2018, according to a study from Expedia.

Now, according to The Washington Post, Mayor de Blasio has a new proposal to guarantee New York City residents two weeks of paid time off.

At the moment, no U.S. city or state has mandated paid time off for workers, so this new proposal is truly an innovative one. According to The Washington Post, if the proposal is approved by City Council, it will give paid time off to an additional 500,000 workers.

Mayor de Blasio has also proposed guaranteed health care for city residents, pledging $100 million to the initiative to cover an additional 600,000 people without insurance. Mayor de Blasio said in a statement to The Washington Post that the new paid time off proposal is also an effort to help workers feel healthier.

“More than 500,000 hard-working men and women should earn paid personal time when they contribute to the success of their companies. Our city’s businesses will benefit from a more productive, healthier workforce. By putting workers first, New York City’s economy has never been stronger,” de Blasio said.

According to NBC News, some small businesses in the city fear the new proposal, if approved, would be a strain on their finances and resources, and therefore cause jobs to decline.

"I would love to be able to provide vacation time to my employees ... but the reality of it is not whether or not we want to give it — it's whether we can give it," said Dawn Casale, the founder of One Girl Cookies, to NBC News.

Casale added that she would be more open to the idea if the city were more active in helping small businesses pay for benefits.

NBC News reported that the same argument against this proposal was made for the mandatory paid sick leave law in 2014. But instead of destroying jobs, employment actually went up.

Paul Sonn, state policy program director at the National Employment Law Project, told The Washington Post that the new proposal would greatly benefit working and middle class employees who often have to choose between work and important personal events.

“It would protect them from having to choose between losing pay and going to their kid’s graduation or the funeral of a loved one. It would be historic,” Sonn told the Washington Post.

Since Americans today work longer hours than peasants in Medieval times, according to one study, it stands to reason that the new policy could potentially help burned-out employees the most.