On February 26, 2014, the New York City Council passed an amendment to the Earned Sick Time Act (the "Act") requiring all employers with five or more New York City employees to provide five paid sick days effective April 1, 2014. The Act passed last year and originally was set to become effective on April 1, 2014, for employers with 20 or more New York City employees and on October 1, 2015, for employers with 15 or more New York City employees. The law also requires employers that do not reach the employee threshold to provide employees with five unpaid sick days, effective April 1, 2014. Under the amended Act, employers with fewer than 20 New York City employees will not be subject to civil penalties for failure to provide paid sick leave until October 1, 2014, but may be required to provide equitable relief.
Under the Act, paid sick or unpaid sick days can be utilized for the employee's own mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; need for medical diagnosis, care or treatment; or need for preventive care. Additionally, paid or unpaid sick leave can be utilized for care of a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; or who needs preventive medical care.
The amendments to the Act also expanded the definition of family member to include an employee's sibling, grandchild or grandparent. The Act originally defined family member to include only an employee's child, spouse, domestic partner or parent, or the child or parent of an employee's spouse or domestic partner.
What This Means for New York City Employers
Employers with five or more New York City employees should revise their policies to provide five paid sick days to New York City employees beginning on April 1, 2014. The amended Earned Sick Time Act signals to New York City employers that Mayor de Blasio will be pursuing a more employee-friendly agenda than the previous Bloomberg administration.