As widely reported, on May 8, 2013, the New York City Council passed the Earned Sick Time Act, providing time off for illness, either paid or unpaid depending on an employer’s size, to certain employees who work a minimum of 80 hours in a calendar year. While Mayor Bloomberg has vetoed the Act as a measure deemed hostile to economic growth in New York City, it is universally acknowledged that the Act has sufficient support to override any veto. Reacting to copycat measures on the municipal level, including specifically a referendum for mandatory paid sick leave placed on the August 2014 ballot in a Florida county, Governor Rick Scott has signed into law HB 655, prohibiting political subdivisions of the State of Florida from requiring employers to provide employment benefits that are not required by federal or state law.
This highly polarizing law may join New York City’s bill as legal and political lightning rods for the broader issues of whether and how to regulate paid leave. “The more regulation imposed at the state and local level, the harder it is for employers to comply,” observed Jackson Lewis partner Richard Greenberg. “These laws potentially punish and create administrative difficulties for the vast majority of employers who provide a flexible, equitable approach to leave issues, regardless of their legal obligations.”
Further legislation (and, potentially, legal challenges) is likely to follow.