What Employers Need to Know About New York State's New Sick Leave Law

New York State's new sick leave law (the "NYSSLL") went into effect on September 30, 2020. Under the NYSSLL, all employers are required to provide sick leave to employees. Beginning January 1, 2021, employees may use accrued leave under the NYSSLL.

Leave under the NYSSLL can be used for:

  • The employee's mental or physical illness, or injury, or diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventive care for employee's mental or physical illness or injury;
  • A covered family member's mental or physical illness or injury or diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventive care for a covered family member's mental or physical illness or injury;
  • Absences related to the employee's status as a victim of domestic violence, family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking; or
  • Absences related to a covered family member's status as a victim of domestic violence, family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking.

The term "family member" is broadly defined under the NYSSLL to include an employee's child (biological, adopted, or foster child, a legal ward, or a child of an employee standing in loco parentis); spouse; domestic partner; parent (biological, foster, step, adoptive, legal guardian, or person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child); sibling; grandchild; grandparent; and the child or parent of an employee's spouse or domestic partner.

The amount of leave employees are eligible to accrue under the NYSSLL, and whether it is paid or unpaid, is as follows:

  • Employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income of less than $1 million in the previous tax year must provide employees with at least 40 hours of unpaid leave per calendar year.
  • Employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income of greater than $1 million in the previous tax year and employers with between 5 and 99 employees must provide employees with at least 40 hours of paid leave per calendar year.
  • Employers with 100 or more employees must provide employees with at least 56 hours of paid leave per calendar year.

Leave must accrue at a rate of at least 1 hour per 30 hours worked. Alternatively, an employer may choose to frontload leave by providing employees with the entire amount of leave at the beginning of the year. An employer who chooses to frontload leave may not later reduce the amount of leave if the employee does not work sufficient hours to accrue the amount provided.

Accrued but unused sick leave must be carried over to the following year; however, employers with fewer than 100 employees may limit an employee's use of sick leave to 40 hours per year, and employers with 100 or more employees may limit use to 56 hours per year.

Employers may set a reasonable minimum increment for use, which cannot exceed 4 hours.

Employees may request in writing or verbally that the employer provide a summary of the amount of sick leave the employee has accrued and used, which the employer must provide within 3 business days of the request.

Employers may not require employees to disclose any confidential information in verifying the need for leave.

Employees have a right to reinstatement and protections against retaliation for exercising rights under the NYSSLL.

Employers are not required to pay employees for unused sick leave upon an employee's voluntary or involuntary separation from employment.

For more information about how the NYSSLL affects your organization, please contact Laura L. Spring, Esq. at CCBLaw.