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New Law Protects You From Retaliation for Taking Sick Time

As of April 1 of this year, New York City employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for taking sick time under the Earned Sick Time Act.

Under the new law, employers must provide at least one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked by the employee, up to a maximum of 40 hours of sick time in a calendar year. Sick time begins to accrue as soon as the employee is hired (so long as on or after April 1), however an employee can only start using accrued sick time upon the later of 120 days after the commencement of the employee's employment, or 120 days after the April 1 effective date of the new law.

Employees get to determine how much accrued sick time they need to use, although employers can "set a reasonable minimum increment for the use of sick time not to exceed four hours per day." Sick time may be used only for the following reasons: (i) the employee's mental or physical illness, injury or health condition, or need for medical diagnosis, care or treatment of such an illness, injury or health condition; (ii) the employee's need for preventative medical care; (ii) the care of an employee's family member who needs medical diagnosis, care or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; (iii) the care of an employee's family member who needs preventative medical care; (iv) closure of the employee's place of business by a public official due to a public health emergency; or (v) the employee's need to care for a child whose school or childcare provider has been closed by a public official due to a public health emergency. Employers may require an employee to provide written confirmation that the employee used sick time in accordance with the new law.

Unused accrued sick time must be carried over to the following calendar year. However, at no time is an employer required to allow the use of more than 40 hours of sick time in any calendar year, and an employer may choose not to allow unused paid sick time to carry over if the employee is paid for such unused paid sick time by the end of the applicable calendar year. In addition, employers are not required under the law to pay for unused sick time upon "termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment."

Significantly, if your employer retaliates against you for taking sick time that you are legally entitled to under the new law, they are liable for damages.


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