As we previously reported in our June 2013 issue, New York City recently became the largest municipality in the country requiring employers to provide sick time to employees under the “Earned Sick Time Act.” However, in order to become effective, the Act contains a unique provision that ties its effective date to the New York Coincident Economic Index. On December 13, 2013, the New York City Independent Budget Office announced that the economic thresholds were met and that the Act will go into effect on April 1, 2014. The letter on Coincident Indicators for the Paid Sick Leave Act is available on the Independent Budget Office of the City of New York’s website.
Under the Act, any employee who is employed for more than 80 hours in New York City in a calendar year is entitled to paid or unpaid sick time (with limited exceptions). Employers with 20 or more employees in New York City must provide covered employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year. Employers with less than 20 employees must provide unpaid sick time. Beginning on October 1, 2015, the threshold drops and employers with 15 or more New York City employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year. Under the Act, sick time is accrued at 1 hour for each 30 hours worked, capped at 40 hours in a calendar year. Furthermore, employees are entitled to use sick time for absences from work due to: (1) the employee’s mental or physical illness; injury or health condition; need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment, or need for preventive medical care; (2) the care of a family member needing such medical diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventive medical treatment; (3) the closure of the place of business due to a public health emergency (as declared by the commissioner of health and mental hygiene or the mayor) or to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed due to a public health emergency.
New York City employers should begin to review and revise their sick leave policies as necessary. In addition, employers should implement necessary administrative functions to ensure compliance with the Act’s strict notice and recordkeeping requirements. For example, employers must retain records for a period of two years that document the number of hours worked by each employee and the amount of sick leave accrued and taken by each. Additionally, at the commencement of employment, employees must be provided with written notice of their entitlement to sick time and the notice must provide information relating to accrual, use of sick time, the employer’s calendar year, and right to be free from retaliation.Prior to instituting a sick leave policy, employers should carefully review the Act to ensure compliance.