New York State-Wide Sick Leave
August 25, 2020
As of September 30, 2020, New York State is instituting its first state-wide law requiring all New York employers to provide sick leave. The amount of leave and whether an employee is eligible for paid or unpaid leave will be dependent upon the size of the employer:
- Employers with four or fewer employees in any calendar year and with a net income up to $1 million in the previous tax year will have to provide up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave in each calendar year;
- Employers with four or fewer employees in any calendar year and with a net income greater than $1 million in the previous tax year will have to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in each calendar year;
- Employers with between five and 99 employees in any calendar year, regardless of income, will have to provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each calendar year; and
- Employers with 100 or more employees in any calendar year will have to provide employees with up to 56 hours of paid sick leave each calendar year.
The paid leave must be given at the employee’s regular rate of pay at the time the leave is taken.
Calculating Sick Leave
Employers have two options when accounting for sick leave. At the beginning of each calendar year, Employers can provide employees with the total amount of required sick leave to be granted for that year. Alternatively, starting on September 30, 2020, employees can begin to accrue sick leave at a rate of one hour per every 30 hours worked.
Use of Accrued Sick Leave
Employees can begin to use their accrued sick leave starting on January 1, 2021. Employers have the right to set minimum increments for the usage of sick leave, which cannot be greater than four (4) hours. Employers are not permitted to require an employee to disclose the reason for the sick leave request. Additionally, employers need to be aware that unused sick leave must be carried over to the next calendar year; however, employers can cap annual usage at 56 hours for employers with 100 or more employees and 40 hours for employers with less than 100 employees. Finally, the new law does not require the payout of unused sick leave upon an employee’s separation from a company, regardless of the reason.
Reasons for Leave
Beginning January 1, 2021, an employer shall provide accrued sick leave for the following purposes:
(i) for a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of an employee or such employee’s family member, regardless of whether such illness, injury, or health condition has been diagnosed or requires medical care at the time that such employee requests such leave;
(ii) for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition of, or need for medical diagnosis of, or preventive care for, an employee or such employee’s family member; or
(iii) for an absence from work due to any of the following reasons when the employee or employee’s family member has been the victim of domestic violence (pursuant to subdivision thirty-four of section two hundred ninety-two of the executive law), a family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking:
(a) to obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other services program;
(b) to participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocate, or take other actions to increase the safety of the employee or employee’s family members;
(c) to meet with an attorney or other social services provider to obtain information and advice on, and prepare for or participate in any criminal or civil proceeding;
(d) to file a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement;
(e) to meet with a District Attorney’s office;
(f) to enroll children in a new school; or
(g) to take any other actions necessary to ensure the health or safety of the employee or the employee’s family member or to protect those who associate or work with the employee.
New York employers may provide employees sick leave with greater benefits than mandated by this new law; however, they can no longer provide less. There are many nuances to this new law which New York employers need to keep in mind, including:
- employers must provide employees with summaries of used and accrued sick leave on a regular basis;
- employers can be penalized for disciplining or discharging employees for using sick leave;
- employees must be restored to the prior position they held before taking sick leave; and
- special rules for unionized workplaces.
Brody and Associates stands ready to assist you in creating your newly required sick leave policies and putting those new policies into place. Some general housekeeping matters for all New York employers to conduct before the September 30th deadline include reviewing the full text of New York’s new Paid Sick Leave law, training staff on how the new law will impact operations and administration, and updating existing sick leave policies to ensure compliance.