New York’s Big Shift in Mandatory Sick and Safe Leave

Change is underway in New York – what once was a job benefit gratuitously offered by some employers is now a requirement under the law for all employers. Beginning September 30, 2020, all employees within New York begin to accrue leave time and are entitled to use such leave time starting Jan. 1, 2021. See N.Y. Lab. Law § 196-b (added by A. 9506).

Depending on the size of the employer, employees will be entitled to either 40 hours or 56 hours of sick and safe leave, and larger employers will be required to pay for such leave time.   Below is a breakdown of the amount of leave employees will be entitled to use based on the employer size:

  • Employers with less than 5 employees and a net income of less than $1 million in the previous tax year must provide 40 hours of unpaid leave;
  • Employers with less than 5 employees and a net income of more than $1 million in the previous tax year must provide 40 hours of paid leave;
  • Employers with more than 5 employees and less than 100 employees must provide 40 hours of paid leave regardless of net income; and
  • Employers with more than 100 employees must provide 56 hours of paid sick leave regardless of net income.

The new law further provides that employees will accrue a minimum of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, or employers have the option to frontload all leave time at the beginning of the year.  In addition, employers are permitted to set a reasonable minimum increment for use of the leave time, but such minimum increment cannot exceed four hours.

Employees may use the sick and safe leave time for any of the following reasons:

  • The employee’s or a family member’s mental or physical illness or injury or diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventative care for mental or physical illness or injury;
  • Absences related to the employee’s or a family member’s status as a victim of domestic violence, family offense, sexual offense, stalking or human trafficking

It is important to note that the law broadly defines “family member” as an employee’s child (biological, adopted, foster, legal ward, or a child of an employee standing in loco parentis), spouse, domestic partner, parent (biological, adoptive, foster, step, legal guardian, or person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child), sibling, grandchild, or grandparent, and the child or parent of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner.

In addition to the new mandatory sick and safe leave provisions, employers are required to document and retain records relating to the amount of sick and safe leave provided to employees for at least 6 years. If an employee requests, either verbally or in writing, a summary of the employee’s accrued and used sick and safe leave, the employer must provide such information within 3 days.

The foregoing information is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem. Please visit certilmanbalin.com often to stay abreast of developments or contact your Certilman Balin attorney directly with any questions.

 

Douglas E. Rowe - Long Island Labor & Employment Law Attorney    Desiree M. Gargano - Long Island Employment Law & Litigation Attorney

Doug Rowe is a Partner in the Employment Law Group and Desiree Gargano is an Associate.