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New York State Enacts Paid Sick Leave Law

New York State now requires all employers to provide sick leave to its employees. The New York State Sick Leave (NYSSL) law went into effect on September 30, 2020 but employees will not be able to take paid sick leave until January 1, 2021.

Key points of the NYSSL include:

  • The amount of sick leave employees will be entitled to use will vary by employer size and income. Specifically:
  • Employers with at least 100 employees must provide 56 hours of paid sick leave.
  • Employers with fewer than 100 employees must provide 40 hours of paid sick leave.
  • Employers with fewer than 5 employees and a net income in excess of $1 million in the previous tax year must provide 40 hours of paid sick leave.
  • Employers with fewer than 5 employees and a net income of less than $1 million in the previous tax year must provide 40 hours of unpaid sick leave.
  • NYSSL will accrue sick leave at a rate of 1 hour of every 30 hours worked, unless an employer elects to frontload all sick time at the beginning of the year.
  • Employers may set a reasonable minimum increment for use, which cannot exceed 4 hours.

NYSSL can be used for the following reasons:

  • Employee’s mental or physical illness, or injury, or diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventive care for employee’s mental or physical illness or injury;
  • Covered family member’s mental or physical illness or injury or diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventive care for a covered family member’s mental or physical illness or injury;
  • Absences related to employee’s status as a victim of domestic violence, family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking; or
  • Absences related to a covered family member’s status as a victim of domestic violence, family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking.

The term “Family Member” is broadly defined under the NYSSL to include an employee’s child (biological, adopted, or foster child, a legal ward, or a child of an employee standing in loco parentis), spouse, domestic partner, parent (biological, foster, step, adoptive, legal guardian, or person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child), sibling, grandchild, or grandparent; and the child or parent of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner.

Other important points to note are the following:

  • Unused sick leave must be carried over to the following year.
  • Employees may request in writing or verbally that an employer provide a summary of the amount of sick leave accrued and used by the employee, which the employer must provide within 3 business days of the request.
  • Employers may not require employees to disclose any confidential information in verifying the need for NYSSL.
  • Employees have a right to reinstatement and protections against retaliation for exercising rights under the NYSSL.

Employers in New York City and Westchester County, which have their own sick leave laws, are awaiting further guidance as to how the NYSSL with interact with their existing requirements.

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