New York Enacts Statewide Paid Sick Leave Law
On April 3, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the fiscal year 2021 New York State budget, which includes a new statewide paid sick leave requirement. The new leave provisions will require New York employers of all sizes to provide a certain amount of paid or unpaid sick leave to be used for certain medical and employee safety-related reasons.
The paid sick leave requirements will take effect on September 30, 2020. However, employees may be restricted from utilizing accrued sick leave until January 1, 2021.
Amount of Sick Leave AvailableUnder the new sick leave provisions:
- Employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income of less than $1 million in the prior tax year must provide employees with up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave.
- Employers with between 5 and 99 employees and employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income of greater than $1 million in the prior tax year must provide each employee with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.
- Employers with 100 or more employees will provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year.
Employees must accrue sick leave at a rate of at least 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. Alternatively, employers may fulfill their obligation under the law by providing the full amount of sick leave in a lump sum at the beginning of each year.
Unused sick leave carries over to the following year, though employers with fewer than 100 employees may limit the use of sick leave to 40 hours per year and employers with 100 or more employees may limit the use of sick leave to 56 hours per year.
Covered Reasons for Taking LeaveCovered reasons for taking sick leave under the law include:
- The need for diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness or preventative care of the employee or the employee’s family member; and
- Certain needs related to the employee or the employee’s family member being the victim of domestic violence, sexual offenses, stalking, or human trafficking, including obtaining services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other services program; participating in safety planning; temporarily or permanently relocating; meeting with an attorney or participating in legal proceedings; enrolling children in a new school; or taking other actions to increase the safety of the employee or employee’s family members
For purposes of this leave, a “family member” includes an employee’s child (including foster child, legal ward, or equivalent legal relationship), spouse, domestic partner, parent (including a step- or foster parent, legal guardian, or equivalent legal relationship), sibling, grandchild, grandparent, and the child or parent of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner.
Use of Sick LeaveThe law does provide certain restrictions on the use of sick leave. Specifically:
- Employers may set a reasonable minimum daily increment for the use of sick leave of no greater than four (4) hours; and
- Unused sick leave need not be paid out upon an employee’s separation or termination of employment.
Notably, upon return from sick leave, the law requires employees to be restored to the same position as held before the leave with the same pay and terms and conditions.