Earlier this year we informed you about a pending bill that would require employers in New York City to provide sick leave to employees. After Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the bill, last week the New York City Council overrode the veto, passing legislation that becomes effective April 1, 2014. Under the Earned Sick Time Act (the “Act”), businesses with at least 20 employees will be required to offer employees five paid sick days starting in April 2014, with the Act to apply to businesses with at least 15 employees starting in October 2015.

The Act applies to full-time, part-time, and temporary employees. Covered employers will be required to provide one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked by the employee, up to a maximum of 40 hours (five days) of sick time in a calendar year. Employers that do not have the minimum number of employees to trigger the paid sick leave requirement must still provide their employees the same amount of unpaid sick leave, which is earned at the same rate.

Time may be used for an employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; an employee’s need for medical diagnosis or preventive care; and care of a family member for similar reasons. Employees must work at least four months before being eligible for paid sick leave, and employers may request “reasonable documentation” when absences last more than three consecutive workdays.

An employee will begin to accrue sick leave at the commencement of employment or the effective date of the Act (currently scheduled for April 1, 2014), whichever is later, and be permitted to begin using sick leave on the 120th day following the commencement of his or her employment or on the 120th day following the effective date of the Act, whichever is later.

Even those employers that already offer paid sick time should pay attention to the Act. Among other things, the Act gives employees the right to carry over sick time from year to year or have it paid out at the end of the year, creates new notice and recordkeeping requirements for employers, and protects employees against retaliation for using sick time. Employers will be required to provide a written notice to employees about employees’ rights under the Act.