Sick Pay Relief for NYC Employees!

New York City (NYC) has a new Paid Sick Leave Law, also known as New York City’s Earned Sick Time Act (the Act) (Ch. 8 of Title 20 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York). It became effective April 1, 2014, and applies to employees and domestic workers who work in NYC for more than 80 hours per calendar year. The law applies to all types of employers including nonprofits and small employers. Employees can use the days off to care for themselves or sick family members.

It is the City Council’s hope that providing sick time will have a positive effect on public health, improve employee retention and productivity, and result in a more prosperous, safer and healthier city.

What employers and employees should know:

  • 5 or more employees get up to 40 hours paid sick leave.
  • 1 to 4 employees get up to 40 hours unpaid sick leave.
  • 1 or more full-time, non-related, domestic workers working for the same employer for a year get 2 days paid leave (New York State Labor Law also gives domestic workers an additional 3 paid days off).
  • Employers need to give employees written notice of the employee’s right to sick leave, notice of sick leave accrual and use, notice of the rights to file a complaint and to be free from retaliation. The notice must list the start and end dates of an employer’s calendar year. Special note: this requirement carries a $50 penalty for each employee who was not given the required notice of employee rights.
  • Accrual of sick days begins April 1, 2014, for existing employees, but begins the first day of employment for new city employees.
  • Use of the sick days begins July 30, 2014, for existing employees; but 120 days after first day of employment for new employees.
  • Employers must keep and maintain records documenting their compliance with the law for at least three years.
  • An employee may carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick leave to the next calendar year.
  • Penalties for violating the law range from $500 per first incidence to $1,000 for several incidences within two years.

Exceptions in the law

There are several exceptions within the NYC law. A list of frequently asked questions, including those relating to compliance rules, can be found on the Department of Consumer Affairs website.

Generally, the sick leave law does not apply to U.S. government or New York government agency employees; those in Federal work study programs; those receiving pay from scholarships; physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and audiologists who are licensed by the New York State Department of Education; and independent contractors.

If an employer already has health coverage that allows employees to use sick leave, the coverage must meet or exceed the new law’s requirements. In situations where an employee is subject to a collective bargaining agreement that is in effect on April 1, 2014, the employee becomes covered under the new law beginning on the date that the agreement ends.

Finally, there are some exceptions in the law relating to penalties. Employers with less than 20 employees or certain manufacturing companies listed in sectors 31, 32, or 33 of the U.S. Department of Labor’s North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) have until October 1, 2014, to comply with the law and avoid a penalty. Any first violation before October 1, 2014 will not be counted against these employers.

New York City joins Newark, Jersey City, Portland, Seattle, District of Columbia, and San Francisco in mandating paid sick leave, allowing hundreds of thousands of workers to sigh a bit of relief when they or their family members are ill.

Which city will be next?