The New York City Council has overridden Mayor Michael Bloomberg's veto and adopted the "Earned Sick Time Act." New York City (NYC) is now the fifth municipality to require private employers to provide paid sick leave. NYC employers should begin to review and revise their leave and attendance policies and practices. In addition, NYC employers should begin training HR and managers on the law's requirements with respect to documentation, tracking time, notice and retaliation protections.
The new law requires that employers provide eligible employees with up to five paid sick days' beginning:
April 1, 2014, for an employer with 20 or more employees; and
October 1, 2015, for an employer with 15 to 19 employees and those with one domestic worker.
Smaller employers and employers with 15 to 19 employees must provide five unpaid sick days in a year, starting April 1, 2014.
The law's effective date may be delayed if NYC's economy declines from its January 2012 level (as measured by a financial index maintained by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York). The new law exempts some employers, such as government employers and certain manufacturing employers.
An employee is eligible for leave if he or she works in NYC for 80 hours or more in a year. An employee accrues sick time at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year. An employee can carry over the time from year to year (with a maximum of 40 hours per year). The time accrued may be used for:
An employee's physical or mental illness or medical care (which includes the need for medical diagnosis or treatment or preventative care);
The physical or mental illness or medical care of a spouse, registered domestic partner, child, parent or parent-in-law; or
Public health emergencies that result in an ordered closure of a place of business, school or childcare provider.
An employer may require an employee to provide reasonable notice of the need for leave (up to seven days' notice for planned absences and as soon as practicable for emergencies). After three consecutive sick days, an employer can require documentation to support the qualified reason for use of paid sick leave - but not the specific nature of any medical condition.
Upon commencement of employment, an employer must provide an employee with written notice of his or her rights under the law. NYC's Department of Consumer Affairs will create a model notice for employers in many different languages.
Debra Ness, the President of the National Partnership for Women & Families, released a statement praising NYC's new law and calling on Congress to pass similar federal legislation. Mayor Bloomberg however, considers the increased costs of providing paid sick leave "harmful" because it forces employers to reduce other much needed employee benefits.