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What Employers Need to Know about New York’s New Paid Sick Leave

January 6, 2021 | by B. Kevin Burke, Jr.
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The new year brings new paid leave requirements to New York employers. New York State established additional rights to paid leave for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers on April 3, 2020. Under this legislation, starting on September 30, employees began to accrue paid sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. As of January 1, 2021, employees are able to use their accrued paid sick leave.

New York’s paid leave law now requires employers to provide up to 40 or 56 hours of annual sick leave, depending on the size and annual calendar revenue of the employer as follows:

  • Employees of a company with 100 or more employees receive 56 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year.
  • Employees of a company with between five and 99 employees or a net income of more than $1 million, receive 40 hours per year of paid sick leave per calendar year. 
  • Employees of a company with four or fewer employees but a net income of greater than $1 million in the previous tax year receive up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year.
  • Employees of a company with fewer than five employees and a net income of less than $1 million or less are now entitled to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per calendar year.

 Employees can use paid sick time for any of the following situations:

  • For an employee’s or employee’s family member’s physical illness, injury, or health condition, regardless of whether it has been diagnosed or requires medical care at the time of the request for leave;
  • For an employee’s or employee’s family member’s mental illness, regardless of whether it has been diagnosed or requires medical care at the time of the request for leave;
  • For the diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;
  • To seek a medical diagnosis or receive preventive care for a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;
  • 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, a family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking
    • to obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other services program;
    • to relocate temporarily or permanently for safety reasons or to enroll children in a new school;
    • to file a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement;
    • 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;
    • to take any other actions necessary to ensure the health or safety of the employee or the employee’s family member.

New York’s paid sick leave law permits employers to “front load” the total amount sick leave at the beginning of the calendar year, provided that employers do not reduce the available amount of sick leave based on the number of hours actually worked by the employee. Employers may require employees to take accrued leave in increments (e.g., 15 minutes, 1 hour, etc.), so long as the shortest increments allowed do not exceed four hours.

Any limitations permitted by the new law must be put into writing and either posted at the workplace or given to the employee. Employers may not discharge, threaten, penalize, or in any other manner discriminate or retaliate against any employee because that employee has exercised his or her sick leave rights under the law.

Requests for paid sick are inherently fact-specific and unique to each employee’s situation. If you or your HR department has questions about how to handle a particular situation related to an employee’s use of sick time, give our labor and employment team a call before you act. Handling these types of HR issues properly on the front end, will save you time, money, headaches and loss of workplace productivity on the back end.

Click here to review New York State’s complete rules related to Paid Sick Leave.

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