New York’s Paid Sick Leave Law

On April 3, 2020 Governor Cuomo officially signed into law the right to paid sick leave for New Yorkers.  The new law requires employers with five or more employees with a net income of more than $1 million to provide sick to leave to employees, and for employers with fewer than five employees and a net income of $1 million or less to provide unpaid sick leave of 40 hours to employees.  Businesses with 100 or more employees are required to provide up to seven days (56 hours) of paid sick leave, and businesses with five to 99 employees must provide up to five days (40 hours) of paid sick leave.  Additionally, businesses with fewer than five employees but a net income of more than $1 million, must also provide 40 hours of paid sick leave.

Small businesses with five or fewer employees and less than $1 million in net income need only provide 40 hours of unpaid sick leave.  All private sector employees in New York state are covered under the statute, regardless of their industry, occupation, part-time status, or overtime exempt status.  The act permits the usage of accrued leave hours that can be used for mental or physical illness, and injury or health conditions, regardless of whether the condition has been diagnosed or requires medical care at the time of the request for leave.  Accrued hours can also be used for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of mental or physical illness, injury or health condition, or the need for medical diagnosis or preventative care. 

Notably, the act permits usage of accrued hours when an employee or a member of the employee’s family has been a victim of domestic violence, family offense, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking , and the time being utilized is to obtain services from a domestic violence shelter or services program, to participate in safety planning and temporary or permanent relocation, to meet with an attorney or social services provider to prepare for or participate in criminal and civil proceedings, and a number of other stipulated reasons.  While employers are permitted to require that leave be used in increments such as 15 minutes or 1 hour, a minimum increment of more than 4 hours is not allowed.  Perhaps most importantly, employers are required to pay employees at the normal rate of pay for any paid leave that is given under the new law.    

Portions of the law have already begun the process of being fully implemented.  Starting on September 30, 2020, covered employees in the state began accruing hours at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked.  As of January 1, 2021 employees are permitted to start using this accrued leave.  Notably, collective bargaining agreements that have been entered into after September 30th are not required to provide the sick leave described above as long as the agreement provides for comparable benefits and sick days.  Employers must be careful and deliberate in ensuring that the new provisions of the law will be implemented within their workplaces in a consistent manner. 

If you or your H.R. department have any questions on the implementation of the new paid sick leave law, and what specific provisions your business may be required to utilize, please do not hesitate to call us at 516-888-1208 or email Cynthia Augello at caugello@augellolaw.com.

Thank you to Joel Thomas, JD for his assistance with this post. 

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