The New York State Sick Leave Law Provides Employees with Up to 56 Hours of Paid Sick Leave
On April 3, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York signed into law the New York State Sick Leave Law (NYSSL). The law aligns New York State with the 14 other states and Washington D.C. that mandate employer-paid sick leave for employees.
The NYSSL goes into effect on September 30, 2020. The state law requires all employers to provide up to 56 hours of sick leave to their employees. Most employers must provide paid sick leave to employees.
Read on to learn more about the New York State law that changes how paid time off will be implemented throughout the state, and potentially the country.
What Is the New York State Sick Leave Law?
The New York State Sick Leave Law (NYSSL) is the new addition to New York’s wage and hour laws. It mandates employers to provide sick leave to their employees. Under the law, for every 30 hours an employee works, they receive one hour of sick leave.
The law mandates the following guidelines for New York State employers:
- Companies with 5 to 99 employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year
- Companies with 100 or more employees must provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year
- Companies netting over $1 million a year with 4 employees or less must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year
- Companies netting $1 million or less in the prior tax year with 4 employees or less must provide up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per year
When Does the Law Take Effect?
The new wage and hour law for paid sick leave goes into effect on September 30, 2020. Upon effect, employers must begin documenting employee hours and assigning sick days based on hours worked.
However, employees may not begin taking paid sick leave until January 1, 2021. As of January 1, 2021, employees may take the paid sick leave they accrued through that point.
How Can Employees Use Sick Leave?
Employees accumulate one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. However, employers can decide how sick leave is acquired. Some employers may choose to provide all the sick leave on January 1, 2021.
Some employers have the right to require employees to use a minimum number of hours of sick leave. However, they cannot set a minimum that is more than 4 hours. In other words, employers may insist employees use sick leave as half-day increments.
Keep in mind, your employer cannot ask you to disclose personal information to approve your paid sick leave. Employers must continue to follow HIPPA laws and cannot deny leave to employees who refuse to provide specific details. You also have the right to request a detailed summary of your paid sick time used and remaining. Employers must comply.
Does the Law Require Employees Work Full-Time to Receive Paid Sick Leave?
As long as you work for an employer with 5 or more employees, you get paid sick leave. Since the law requires employees earn the leave at the rate of 1 hour per 30 hours worked, everyone can accrue, and use, paid sick leave. The law does not prohibit part-time employees from paid sick leave.
The law also allows employees to accrue paid sick time the day they begin working for a company. Employers cannot institute a waiting period as they would with other employee benefits.
What Does Paid Sick Leave Cover?
The NYSSL specifies employees may use paid sick leave for the following reasons:
- Your Mental or Physical Illness, Injury, or Related Diagnosis and Care.
- A Covered Family Member’s Mental or Physical Illness, Injury or Related Diagnosis and Care.
- Time off Related to Your or Your Covered Family Members Status as a Domestic Violence Victim, Family Offense, Sexual Assault, Stalking, or Human Trafficking.
Who Is a Covered Family Member?
Under the NYSLL, employees can use paid sick leave for themselves or a covered family member. The law clearly defines a covered family member as follows:
- Your Child
- Your Spouse
- Your Domestic Partner
- Your Parent
- Your Brother or Sister
- You Grandchild
- Your Grandparent
- Your Spouse’s child or parent
Can Unused Accrued Sick Time Carry Over from Year to Year?
Under the NYSSL, the paid sick leave can carry over from year to year for employee use. However, the wage and hour law does not mandate that employers must allow their employees to use more than 40 or 56 hours (depending on the size of the company) of paid sick leave per year.
Furthermore, if the employee leaves the company, the law does not require the employer pay employees for any unused and accrued paid sick leave.
How Does the NYSSL Affect New York City’s and Westchester’s Sick Leave Laws?
The New York Department of Labor has yet to release any way the NYSSL affects the already existing paid leave law in New York City and Westchester. However, New York City passed a bill on September 23, 2020 that will update the city law.
The new bill will change to New York City Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law to mirror he New York State Sick Leave Law. If Mayor Bill de Blasio signs the bill into law, it can take effect as early as September 30, 2020. However, if he does not sign the bill into law, it will take affect no later than October 23, 2020.
Can an Employee Receive Pay for Unused Sick Time When Terminating Their Employment Relationship?
The short answer is no. The law does not mandate an employer to pay an employee his remaining sick leave when he leaves a company.
However, some employers may choose to pay this remaining money to the employee as good faith or policy.
Can an Employer Fire an Employee for Using Paid Sick Leave?
The NYSSL insists employers allow employees to return to their position or a comparable position with the same pay when returning from sick leave. Anything less is considered retaliation.
Retaliation may appear as wrongful termination when an employer fires you because you used your paid sick leave for a covered reason. It can also appear as a demotion, change in shift, or any other punishment that affects your ability to earn a fair wage.
Do Not Let Your Employers Deny Your Right to Paid Sick Leave!
If you work in New York State, you have the right to take sick leave. Your sick leave is separate from your vacation time or paid time off. Any employer who denies you this additional leave has violated state law.
If your employer denies you sick leave or paid sick leave as mandated by New York State law, you have the right to fight back. You will need a lawyer who understands wage and hour laws and can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 800.807.2209 to speak with a wage and hour lawyer at the Derek Smith Law Group today.
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