Not long after overriding then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2013 veto of an earlier compromise bill requiring certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave, the New York City Council went even further on February 26, voting 46-5 in favor of a new and far more expansive bill — the “Expansion of Earned Sick Time Act” (the Act) — that will eventually apply to nearly all New York City employers. The Act will become law after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) signs it.
Under the Act, all employers with five or more employees in New York City, and anyone employing one or more domestic workers, must provide up to five days of paid sick leave to such individuals annually. The earlier legislation had only required such leave for employers with 20 or more workers, and included a now-repealed exemption for the manufacturing sector. Thus, the new Act extends the paid sick leave requirements to cover as many as 500,000 additional workers, according to Mayor de Blasio. Per the terms of the earlier law, employers with fewer than five employees must still provide up to five days annually of job-protected (albeit unpaid) sick leave.
The new Act also expands the permissible grounds for utilizing paid sick leave — authorizing workers to use such leave to take care of sick grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings, in addition to a spouse or domestic partner and children (who had already been covered by the earlier ordinance). The Act extends the statute-of-limitations for worker claims from nine months to two years, and extends the earlier law’s record-keeping requirement for employers from two to three years. And, in addition to a series of notice requirements, the Act expands the enforcement powers of the Department of Consumer Affairs, and empowers the Mayor to enforce its provisions through a different agency — if he so chooses.
Although non-complying employers are subject to civil penalties, the City Council, responding to concerns from small business owners, provided a six-month grace period for the newly covered employers, i.e., those employing between five and 19 employees and those in the manufacturing sector. Such businesses cannot be fined for violations before October 1, 2014. The rest of the Act’s provisions go into effect on April 1, 2014.