Sick-Leave Benefits Available As Early As January 1, 2021

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As we have previously reported, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law a new comprehensive sick-leave program for all New York employees. The sick-leave law became effective September 30, 2020, for the purposes of accruing leave, and employees are eligible to take sick leave under the law as early as January 1, 2021.

Paid and Unpaid Sick-Leave Provisions

New York’s statewide sick-leave law requires every employer to provide all employees with sick leave as follows:

  1. Employers with four or fewer employees in any calendar year and a net income of $1 million or less in the previous tax year must provide each employee with up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave in each calendar year.
  2. Employers with (a) four or fewer employees in any calendar year and a net income of greater than $1 million in the previous tax year, or (b) between five and 99 employees in any calendar year, must provide each employee with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in each calendar year.
  3. Employers with 100 or more employees in any calendar year must provide at least 56 hours of paid sick leave in each calendar year.

Accrual and Use

Employees must accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Allowable uses include caring for your own illness or that of a family member. The sick-leave law also covers employees responding to domestic violence. Sick leave can be used in intervals of no less than four hours. Employers are required to carry over any unused leave each year but can limit the amount of leave employees can take each year to the limit within the law. Employers are permitted to frontload all the required sick leave to their employees and can use already-established paid time off or leave policies provided the policy complies with the accrual, use and carryover requirements of the law.

Further guidance is available on the state’s webpage, titled “New York State Paid Sick Leave FAQ.” The page is dedicated to an overview of the sick-leave law, which includes, among other things, information about sick-leave accruals, eligibility for sick leave and permitted uses of sick leave.

New York employers should be cognizant of the new state mandated sick-leave requirements and ensure that their leave polices and employee manuals are updated to reflect these requirements. 

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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