Law: New York City’s Earned Sick Time Act (ESTA) requires most private employers to provide up to 40 hours of sick leave per year to their employees working in the city. In general, the law provides that private employers with five or more employees must provide their workers with paid sick time. Private employers with fewer than five employees are still subject to the law but can provide unpaid sick time. If an employer that is required to provide paid sick time fails to do so, the employee will be entitled to three times the wages that should have been paid or $250 for each violation, whichever is greater. If an employee requests sick time and that request is unlawfully denied by the employer, or the employer requires the employee to find a replacement to cover the employee’s shift, the employee can recover $500 for each violation.

Impact: New York’s ESTA imposes a number of technical requirements related to carryover and recordkeeping, so even employers that already have paid sick leave policies in place should review those policies for compliance with the new law. New York City joins a growing number of municipalities that have enacted legislation requiring employers to provide sick leave to their employees, including San Francisco, Jersey City, Portland, and Washington DC. Connecticut is the only state to require private-sector employers to provide sick pay; some states, such as Wisconsin and Florida, have banned cities from adopting sick-pay legislation. Given the ongoing changes in this area, employers should keep abreast of new and pending legislation and should consult counsel to ensure that their sick leave policies comply with the laws in all jurisdictions where they have employees.