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January 13, 2014

New York City Mandates Sick Leave

In June 2013, the New York City Council – over the veto of Mayor Bloomberg – passed the "Earned Sick Time Act," requiring, with few exceptions, that all employers who have employees in New York City provide them time off for medical-related issues. See N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 20-911 et seq. Starting April 1, 2014, a covered employer must provide its employees one hour of leave time for every thirty hours of work time, up to a maximum of forty leave hours. For employers of more than twenty employees (fifteen as of October 1, 2015) or of any domestic workers, this leave must be paid.

Employees can use this leave time for any sort of illness or medical appointment or to care for or accompany a close family member having an illness or medical appointment. Employers may not retaliate against employees for using sick leave or otherwise require them to make up the time or swap shifts. If the employee takes more than three consecutive sick days, the employer may require a note from the employee's health care provider. Except for domestic workers, unused sick days carry over to the next year, but employers need not actually allow an employee to use more than forty hours of sick leave in any given year. Employees may not use sick time until they have been employed for at least 120 days.

Of course, employer policies that are more generous than what is required under the Act are still allowed. Additionally, the Act does not apply to any employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") if the CBA expressly waives the protections of the Act. For employees other than those in the construction or grocery industry, however, the CBA must provide a "comparable benefit" such as vacation time, personal time, or premium holiday pay. Employers currently operating under a CBA that extends beyond the effective date of the Act are exempt until the CBA expires.

If you have any questions, please contact the Hiscock & Barclay lawyer with whom you normally work or any attorney in our Labor & Employment practice area.

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