Sick Employees in New York City? There’s an Expanded Sick Leave Ordinance for That

Late last month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed amendments expanding the scope of the City’s Earned Sick Time Act. Starting April 1, 2014, all covered employees must begin accruing earned sick time. The amendments also imposed several other material changes:

  • By May 1, 2014, employers must provide written notice to all existing employees of their rights under this Act and their eligibility for sick time. Providing this blanket notice to all eligible employees is an addition to the original requirement that employers simply provide notice to new employees hired on or after the implementation date of April 1, 2014. A model notice is available (in several languages) on the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs website, which has additional information on the Act
  • Employers with five or more employees (decreased from fifteen) must provide up to five days of paid sick leave (at a rate of one hour of sick leave per 30 hours worked) to employees who work at least 80 hours per year in New York City. Smaller employers, with fewer than five employees, must still provide up to five days of unpaid sick leave.
  • The definition of “family members” as people on whose behalf sick leave may be taken has been broadened to include siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren.

Some employers with pre-existing sick leave policies may already be in compliance with this Act, but these new changes and the specific provisions of the Act will require close attention for accurate implementation. Common obstacles to having existing policies satisfy the intricacies of the New York City law include: ensuring that leave policies allow access to sick days at the start of the year through a carryover of accrued but unused days or by granting days the outset of the year; providing adequate paid time off for part-time or occasional employees; allowing for partial day absences; and confirming that paid time off would be granted to address family members’ medical needs. The City’s push to quickly implement the amended Act also means that further changes may be on the horizon. For instance, the City is still in the process of finalizing rules that will govern the nuts and bolts of the Act—a public hearing is scheduled for later this month—so employers should keep watch.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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