Earned Sick Time Must Now be Provided by NYC Employers

Effective April 1, 2014— In our December 2013 Alert we advised of the pendency of New York City’s Earned Sick Time Act. Under the de Blasio administration, the scope of the law has expanded. Now, effective April 1, 2014, New York City employers employing five or more individuals (including supervisors, managers, owners, exempt and non-exempt employees) must provide PAID sick leave to those working 80 hours or more in a calendar year. Employers with less than five employees must provide UNPAID sick leave.

An employer may determine what constitutes a “calendar year”. us, any consecutive 12 month period such as a true calendar year, fiscal year, or the year running from an employee’s anniversary date of employment will be compliant. Presumably, the year may not start for all employees after April 1, 2014, as to do so would effectively delay implementation.

e law does not apply to: independent contractors; those working 80 hours or less in a “calendar year”; physical therapists; occupational therapists; speech language pathologists; and, audiologists licensed by the New York State Department of Education. Also, employees subject to a collective bargaining agreement will not be covered if the agreement expressly waives the law’s provisions and if a comparable time off benefit is otherwise provided (note: construction and grocery industry employers subject to an agreement need not provide a comparable benefit). Employees begin to accrue sick leave on April 1, 2014 or on their first day of employment, whichever is later. Accrual is at the rate of one (1) hour for every 30 hours worked to a cap of 40 hours in any “calendar year”. Employees may not use accrued sick leave until July 30, 2014 or 120 days after employment, whichever is later. An employer is only required to allow employees to use 40 hours of sick leave within a “calendar year”. Up to 40 hours of unused sick leave may be carried over to the next “calendar year”. Employees need not be paid unused sick leave upon separation from employment. However, if the employee is re-employed within six months, the employer is obligated to reinstate the sick leave hours lost when the employee originally separated.

Use of sick leave may be for a variety of reasons other than the employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or health condition. Also covered is the employee’s care of a “family member” in need of medical diagnosis, preventive medical care, or treatment of an illness, injury or health condition. If an employee’s place of business is closed due to a public health emergency or if the school or health care provider of an employee’s child is closed due to a public health emergency, sick leave may be used. A “family member” is defined as a child, grandchild, spouse/domestic partner, parent, grandparent, sibling, or the child or parent of a spouse/domestic partner.

An employer may set minimum increments for the use of sick leave but in no event may the minimum exceed 4 hours.
Employers are required to give new employees written notice of the law upon commencement of employment. Existing employees must receive the written notice by May 1, 2014. Copies of the written notice may be found here.