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Earned Sick Leave Law Takes Effect in Westchester County, NY

As we previously wrote, Westchester County, New York’s Earned Sick Leave Law went into effect on April 10.  In preparation, the County recently released FAQs for employers and employees as well as a Notice of Employee Rights, which employers may download and use to satisfy part of the law’s notice requirement.

The law provides covered employees of an employer with five or more employees up to 40 hours of paid sick time in a 12-month period.  Employers with fewer than five employees must provide up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave. Covered employees who are currently employed will start accruing earned sick leave on July 10, 2019.  New employees hired after July 10 will begin accruing immediately upon hire. Leave is accrued at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked, up to 40 earned hours in a year.

The FAQs provide some guidance on what is expected of employers, although additional guidance will likely arrive in the coming months as we get closer to the date accrual will commence. 

Who isn’t Covered?

Almost everyone is covered.  However, the FAQs provide the law does not cover employees who work 80 hours or less in a calendar year; participants in a work experience program established by a social services district; participants in a work study program under 42 U.S.C. § 2753; and employees compensated by or through qualified scholarships under 26 U.S.C. § 117.

When Can Sick Leave be Used?

Covered employees can use sick leave when:

  • The employee has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; needs to get a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of your mental or physical illness, injury or condition; or needs preventative medical care.
  • The employee must care for a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, or who needs preventative medical care. “Family member” means the employee’s child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent. It also includes the child or parent of the employee’s spouse, domestic partner or a member of the employee’s household.
  • Your business closes due to a public health emergency or the employee needs to care for a child whose school or child care provider closed due to a public health emergency. “Child” includes a biological child, adopted, faster child, legal ward or a person to whom the employee stands in loco parentis, regardless of age.

Can Employers Require A Doctor’s Note?

Employers can ask for a doctor’s note if an employee uses more than three consecutive workdays as sick leave. Employers may not, however, require the note specify the medical reason for sick leave.

Can an Employer Require Advance Notice of an Employee’s Intent to Use Earned Sick Leave?

 The FAQs provide an employer can require advance notice of an employee’s intention to use sick leave if the need is foreseeable.  If the need is unforeseeable, an employer may require the employee to give notice as soon as practicable. If an employer wishes to require advance notice, this policy and the procedure by which an employee should provide notice must be provided to them in writing.

What are an Employer’s Recordkeeping Obligations?

Employers must keep records which clearly document the hours worked by employees, earned sick time accrued, and earned sick time used, for a period of three years. If an employer fails to keep adequate records, it may result in a rebuttable presumption of a violation of the law.

Employers in Westchester County should take the time to plan for the July 10 accrual date. The law intentionally comes with a 90-day waiting period – use it to prepare!  Keep an eye out for additional guidance and posters.  The law requires employers to comply with the law’s notice obligations by July 10, 2019. The required workplace poster is available on the County’s website here.

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest state and federal employment laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyansassociates.com or 203.454.0560.