On September 30, 2020, many New York employees will begin accruing leave under New York state’s new paid sick leave law. Enacted in April as part of a state budget bill (S7506B), the new law applies to all employers in New York regardless of size and is important to understand in the context of absence management. While the accrual provisions of the law are effective September 30, 2020, employees are not entitled to use sick leave accrued under the law until January 1, 2021.
Employers that have existing sick leave policies or paid time off programs in place are not required to provide additional sick leave or change their policies, as long as the policy meets or exceeds all of the law’s requirements, discussed below.
How Much New York Paid Sick Leave Does an Employee Get?
Sick leave must be accrued by New York employees at a rate of not less than one hour of sick leave per thirty hours worked. Accrual must begin upon hire for all employees hired on or after September 30, 2020. The maximum amount of sick leave that can be accrued by an employee – and whether the leave must be paid – varies by employer size.
In each calendar year, New York employees must be permitted to accrue at least:
- 40 hours of unpaid sick leave, if the employer has 4 or fewer employees and a net income of $1 million dollars or less in the previous tax year
- 40 hours of paid sick leave, if the employer has:
- 4 or fewer employees and a net income of more than $1 million dollars in the previous tax year; or
- Between 5 and 99 employees
- 56 hours of paid sick leave, if the employer has 100 or more employees
For What Reasons May Sick Leave Be Used?
Employees are entitled to sick leave for the following purposes:
- For a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of the employee or the employee’s family member (does not require diagnosis or medical care);
- For the diagnosis, care, or treatment of the employee’s or employee’s family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
- For preventive care for the employee or the employee’s family member; or
- For specified reasons when the employee or the employee’s family member has been a victim of domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, or a sexual or family offense.
Covered family members include the employee’s child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild or grandparent, and the child or parent of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner.
Must Employees Be Permitted to Use Sick Leave in Partial Day Increments?
An employer may set a minimum increment of time in which sick leave may be used, but the minimum increment can be no less than four hours. Employees cannot be required to use leave in full day increments or larger blocks of time.
Is Annual Carryover of Sick Leave Required?
Employers must permit unused sick leave to carry over to the subsequent calendar year, but can limit an employee’s sick leave usage to 40 hours (for employers with 99 or fewer employees) or 56 hours (for employers with 100 or more employees) during each calendar year.
Do Front-Loaded Leave Policies Conflict with the Law?
Some employers choose to implement “front-loaded” leave policies, under which employees receive their full allotment of annual paid leave at the beginning of the year or start of their employment. Although these employees are not technically accruing leave in accordance with the law’s minimum accrual schedule, this practice is explicitly permitted so long as (1) the employees receive the same amount or more leave than they would have accrued during the year under the law, and (2) the employer does not make any deductions from the leave allotment if the employee works less hours than anticipated.
Can Employers Require Medical Certification or Documentation to Support Sick Leave Usage?
Employers are prohibited from conditioning use of sick leave on disclosure of confidential information relating to the employee’s or family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, or information relating to an absence from work due to domestic violence, a sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking. Accordingly, while employers can require employees to make a request (oral or written) for sick leave, requiring a supporting medical certification or documentation containing these types of information would run afoul of the law.
Is Covered Sick Leave Job-Protected?
Sick leave is job-protected under the new law. Employees returning from covered sick leave must be restored to the same position with the same pay and other terms and conditions of employment.
What Should Employers Do Now?
New York employers should review their leave policies and procedures to ensure they meet the minimum requirements of the new law, and make any necessary updates. Covered employers should also be sure to provide adequate training and notice to employees eligible for, and those responsible for administering, the company’s sick leave policies and procedures.
What is ReedGroup Doing?
ReedGroup does not administer accrued paid sick leave laws for most clients, but we monitor changes to sick leave laws to keep our clients up-to-date, so they can create or revise internal policies and processes accordingly. Subscribe to our blog to stay informed about leave law changes!
If you’re looking for assistance managing claims or to ensure compliance across your organization, ReedGroup has solutions for you. Check out our offerings here.
Information provided on this blog is intended for general educational use. It is not intended to provide legal advice. ReedGroup does not provide legal services. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this or any other topic.