As we reported here, among the sweeping pieces of legislation signed during the early periods of the COVID-19 pandemic was the passage of New York’s permanent statewide sick leave law. Under the New York statewide sick leave law, all employers in New York State are required to provide sick leave. The law takes effect on September 30, 2020 and employees will begin accruing leave on that date; however, employees are not eligible to begin using accrued leave until January 1, 2021.

The amount of sick leave is determined by an employer’s size and net income in a given calendar year[1]:

  • Employers with 4 or fewer employees & a net income of less than $1 million must provide up to 40 hours (5 days) of unpaid sick leave per year;
  • Employers with 4 or fewer employees & a net income greater than $1 million and employers with 5-99 employees must provide up to 40 hours (5 days) of paid sick leave per year; and
  • Employers with 100 or more employees must provide up to 56 hours (7 days) of paid sick leave per year.

Beginning September 30, 2020, or upon hire if after that date, employees will accrue sick leave at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked in New York, unless the employer elects to frontload all sick time at the beginning of the year. Employees may begin using sick leave on January 1, 2021.

Employers may set a reasonable minimum increment for sick leave use, which cannot exceed 4 hours. Employees may take sick leave for any of the following:

  • The employee’s or their family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, or for the diagnosis, care or treatment of same, regardless of whether such illness, injury, or health condition has been diagnosed or requires medical care at the time that the employee requests the sick leave, or for preventive care; or
  • If the employee or their family member has been the victim of domestic violence, a family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking, in order to:
    • obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other services program;
    • participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocate, or take other actions to increase the safety of the employee or employee’s family members;
    • meet with an attorney or other social services provider to obtain information and advice on, and prepare for or participate in any criminal or civil proceeding;
    • file a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement;
    • meet with a district attorney’s office;
    • enroll children in a new school; or
    • take any other actions necessary to ensure the health or safety of the employee or the employee’s family member or to protect those who associate or work with the employee.

The law defines family member as an employee’s: child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild or grandparent; and the child or parent of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner. Parent is defined as a biological, foster, step- or adoptive parent, or a legal guardian of an employee, or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child. Child is defined as any biological, adopted or foster child, a legal ward, or a child of an employee standing in loco parentis.

An employee’s unused sick leave must be carried over to the following calendar year.

In addition, employers may not require employees to disclose confidential information in verifying an employee’s need for sick leave under the law. Employees may also request, either in writing or orally, a summary of the amount of sick leave accrued and used by the employee, which the employer shall provide within three business days of such request.

Employers in New York should review and update their sick leave policies to comply with this law.