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Nearly All Private-Sector Employees in New York City Will Soon Be Entitled to Sick Leave

Over Mayor Bloomberg’s veto, the New York City Council enacted a law that will require nearly all employers to provide sick leave.  New York City joins several other large cities and the state of Connecticut in requiring some employers to provide paid sick time.  The law is very nuanced.  What follows is an overview of some of the key topics.

Who Must Provide Leave and When

Beginning April 2014, New York City companies with 20 or more employees will be required to provide five days (40 hours) of paid sick time each year.  Beginning October 2015, the paid sick time requirement will apply to employers with 15-19 employees or at least one domestic worker, although domestic workers will generally be entitled to only two paid sick days per year.  Smaller employers will be required to provide sick leave, but it need not be paid.  There are exceptions for certain education professionals who are paid hourly and for the manufacturing industry.  The timetable for implementation will be delayed if New York City fails to meet certain economic indicators, as the law is designed to go into effect during a time when the economy is improving.

To determine whether your business is covered, count all employees who work in a given week, whether full-time, part-time, or temporary.  If the number fluctuates, you may look to the average number of employees per week in the previous calendar year.  In some situations, groups of companies under common ownership may be counted together.  This applies if the businesses share a common principal or owner who owns at least 30 percent of each establishment and the establishments engage in the same business or have a common franchisor.

If you provide sufficient paid time off and that time can be used for sick leave, additional sick time is not necessary.  Sick time can be carried over from year to year, but employers do not need to allow the use of more than 40 hours in a year.

How Leave Can Be Used

Sick time may be used for the employee’s own illness or medical care, for the care of a family member (child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child of spouse or domestic partner) who needs medical attention, or for certain other limited reasons.  An employer cannot ask for a doctor’s note unless the employee is absent for more than three consecutive work days.  However, the employer can ask the employee to confirm in writing that the time was taken for a permissible reason under the law.  Any documentation regarding medical conditions of the employee or family member must be kept confidential.

Employers cannot require employees to find a replacement worker.  Employees who misuse sick time can be disciplined or terminated, but employees who make legitimate use of this law cannot face retaliation.

Records and Notices

Employer records related to the accrual and use of sick time must be kept for two years.  Employers must also provide a written notice to employees when they start work explaining the accrual and use of sick time, the start and end dates of the employer’s calendar year for sick time, the right to be free from retaliation, and the right to file administrative complaints.  Official forms will be made available.


Employers who violate the law can be required to pay damages to the employee.  Civil penalties of up to $500 per violation are also available.

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@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.