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The New York City Paid Sick Leave Law – Just The FAQs

Effective April 1, 2014, businesses with a New York City office that have 20 or more employees working out of such office are required to provide five paid sick days per calendar year to their employees.  (The law will expand to employers with 15 or more employees starting October 1, 2015.)   Businesses with fewer employees working out of an office in New York City do not have to provide paid sick time, but must allow their employees five unpaid sick days.

The purpose of this Client Alert is to address some of the Frequently Asked Questions we have received from our clients about the new employment law. As we often stress, simple employment mistakes are often quite costly to fix:

Q.    Does the law apply only to full-time employees?  No.  The law applies to all employees whether full-time, part-time, temporary or seasonal, as long as they work more than 80 hours in a calendar year.

Q.    Does it matter whether the principal location of the business is in New York City?  No.  The law applies to any business as long as the business has employees based out of a location in New York City.  Employers with offices in different states need only accommodate employees working in New York City with the leave time required under this law.

Q.    Are there any limitations to the use of sick time?   Almost none.  Employees may use sick time for absences due to their own illness, injury or health condition or the illness, injury or health condition of a family member.  In addition, the law allows sick time if the place of business is closed due to a health emergency or the employee must take care of a child whose school or care provider has been closed under similar circumstances. 

Q. Do the five days need to be provided automatically to new employees?  No.  New employees can be required to work at least four months before they can use the sick days. 

Q.    How are the sick days accrued per year?  Employees will accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, and are entitled to 40 hours per calendar year.

Q.    Can the employer insist on documentation if the employee uses multiple days on a consecutive basis?  Yes.  The law permits employers to require reasonable documentation for sick time lasting more than three consecutive work days.

Q.    Does the law require businesses to extend any existing sick leave policy by the five days covered under the law?  No.  Employers who already provide at least five days of leave time (40 hours per calendar year) for the same paid leave usage and under the same conditions as leave time required under the new law are not required to provide additional sick time.

Q.    Do the five days carry over from year to year?  Yes.  But the business may cap usage of accrued unused sick days to a maximum of 40 hours in a calendar year.

Q.    Are businesses required to notify the employees about this change in the law?  Yes.  Written notice of rights must be provided to the employee at commencement of employment

 If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Howard A. Matalon, Esq. at 908-964-2424.