All private-sector employees in the state of New York, regardless of their occupation and employment status, shall be eligible for paid sick leave. However, federal, state, and government employees are in an exempt status and are not covered by the New York sick leave law.
If the said employee works in a private or charter school or a non-profit organization, he or she shall be eligible for the leave.
Under the New York sick leave law, all employers, regardless of the size of the company, must provide temporary, part-time, and full-time employees with paid or unpaid sick leave. However, the amount of leave available to the employees depends on the employer size or employee headcount.
- Employers with more than 100 employees are required to provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year.
- Employers with no more than 99 but no less than five employees are required to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.
- Employers with no more than four employees but with a net income of $1 million or above must provide their employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.
- Employers with no more than four employees but with a net income of less than $1 million must provide their employees with up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per year.
Sick and Safe Leave Accrual
All employees are granted an accrual rate of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours of work. Alternatively, an employer may also frontload or provide the full extent of the leave to the employee at the beginning of the calendar year or any 12-month period as established by the employer.
If the employer decides to frontload the leave hours, the employee reserves the right to use the full extent of the sick leave benefit. That is true regardless if he or she was unable to work the regular rate of hours necessary to accrue the said amount.
Carry Over from Year to Year
An employee’s unused sick leaves must be carried over to the following benefit year. However, carried over sick leave hours must not exceed the maximum amount of leave hours an employee can earn in a year.
As defined by the New York sick leave law, a “year” begins on January 1 and ends on December 31 of the current calendar year. However, for all employment-related reasons, an employer may establish its own 12-month period to begin the proper accrual or frontloading of the leave.
Eligible employees may use the paid sick leave for any of the following reasons:
- The employee or a family member is suffering from a mental health condition, physical illness, an injury, or any other health condition, regardless of the absence of an official diagnosis
- The employee or a family member needs to seek treatment or diagnosis for a mental or physical illness, injury, or other health condition
- The employee or a family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual offense, human trafficking, stalking, or family offense
- The employee or a family member is to seek medical care in a domestic violence shelter or a rape crisis center
Family Member Defined
The New York sick leave law defines a “family member” as any of the following:
- Child (Biological, adopted, foster child, or a child for whom the employee stands as in loco parentis)
- Spouse/domestic partner
- Parent (Biological, foster, step, adoptive, or an individual who stood as in loco parentis when the employee was a minor)
- Parents of the employee’s domestic partner
Sick and Safe Leave Use Requirements and Limits
Employers may require the employees to use the leave in increments, as long as the minimum increment does not exceed four hours.
The use of paid safe leave does not require the employee to provide the employer with a domestic incident report. In line with this, a report with law enforcement is also not necessary to use the leave.
Payment for Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Upon Separation from Employment
Employers are not required to pay the regular rate if an employee does not use his or her accrued sick leave while on active employment. This remains true unless otherwise stated in another established policy or if the employer chooses to do so.
Employer Notice Requirements
Under the New York sick leave law, employers shall provide their employees with a written notice regarding the restrictions, limitations, requirements, and minimum increment of the leave.
Any information or documentation from employees related to the use and accrual of sick leaves must be kept by the employer for up to six years. Additionally, an employer shall provide an employee, upon the latter’s request, a document that summarizes the employee’s accrued sick leave within three business days.
Employers are not allowed to reduce or restrict an employee’s sick leave time after the latter is moved to a different position in the company. Furthermore, the payment for the sick leave must be at the same rate of pay when the leave was taken.
Discrimination and Retaliation
The New York sick leave law prohibits retaliation against employees after taking the leave. The law also protects employees from any form of discrimination, termination, and coercion. Furthermore, employees returning to work after the leave must be reinstated to the same or equivalent position.
Filing a Complaint, Complaint Procedure, and Penalties
Suppose an employee believes that his or her employer violated the provisions indicated in the New York sick leave law. In that case, the said employee can file a complaint with the Anti-Retaliation Unit of the New York Department of Labor.
If an employer restricts an eligible employee’s right to use the paid safe and sick leave law, the employer shall face administrative and civil sanctions, including criminal penalties. The employer shall also provide the full amount of the employee’s due payment, on top of other civil penalties.
Relationships with Other Laws
Employees who are in collective bargaining agreements, as long as the agreement was established after September 30, 2020, do not require employers to provide the sick leave policies stated by law.
However, the established agreement shall provide benefits and paid sick leaves that equal or exceed the ones included in the New York sick leave law. Additionally, the agreement shall be in compliance with the Labor Law 196-b.
The paid safe and sick leave law does not negate an employee’s right to other state leaves and federal leaves available to employees nationwide. Therefore, an employer must provide this benefit to the employee on top of other existing leaves.
Sick and Safe Time Laws of Local Jurisdictions
In Westchester County, domestic workers may earn an hour of paid sick leave for every seven days of work, with a limit of 40 hours per year. This benefit supersedes the New York sick leave law.