New York City Passes Paid Sick Leave Law

Contributed by Samantha Esmond

On April 5, 2013, we blogged about the resurgence of proposed paid sick leave legislation, which had been considered by the New York City Council since 2009. The New York City Council initially approved the legislation on May 8, 2013 and, as promised, Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the legislation on June 6, 2013.

Despite Mayor Bloomberg’s veto, the New York City Council garnered enough votes to override his veto and enact the “Earned Sick Time Act.” Several other cities, including Seattle, Portland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. have passed similar laws. However, New York City is the most populous city yet to require employers to provide paid sick leave. It has been estimated that this new law will affect nearly one million New Yorkers.

Specifically, the Act requires employers who employ twenty (20) or more employees and all employers of one or more domestic workers to provide paid sick time to their employees beginning on April 1, 2014. The Act is expanded to cover employers who employ fifteen (15) or more employees beginning on October 1, 2015.  Employers who do not employ the requisite number of employees will be required to provide employees with up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave once the law takes effect on April 1, 2014.

Under the Act, employers shall provide a minimum of one (1) hour of sick time for every thirty (30) hours worked, with a maximum of no more than forty (40) hours of paid sick leave per calendar year, as defined by the employer. To be eligible for paid sick time, employees must work within New York City limits and must have been employed for more than eighty (80) hours in a calendar year. The Act further provides that eligible employees shall be entitled to use sick time for themselves or to care for an eligible family member who is in need of:  (1) a medical diagnosis; (2) care or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or (3) preventative medical care.

Although, New York City employers must provide paid sick leave, they may require reasonable notice of the need to use such sick leave, not to exceed seven (7) days advance notice, and request documentation for absences of more than three (3) consecutive workdays. The Act further requires employers to provide employees with written notice of the Act’s requirements, upon commencement of the employment relationship and requires employers to maintain records documenting their compliance. The full text of this new Act is available here.

IMPACT:  New York City employers should be cognizant of the new requirements of the Earned Sick Time Act, including the notice and recordkeeping provisions, and update all employee handbooks and sick leave policies to ensure compliance.