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Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

March 1, 2014

New York City Sick Leave Act Expanded

In an earlier Legal Alert (http://www.hblaw.com/alerts/New-York-City-Mandates-Sick-Leave-01-13-2014) we discussed the "Earned Sick Time Act," which required, with few exceptions, all employers who have employees in New York City to provide them time off for medical-related issues. See N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 20-911 et seq. For employers of a certain size, that time off was required to be paid leave.

On February 26, 2014, the New York City Council voted to expand those protections even further. Now, starting April 1, 2014, an employer of more than five employees (or of any domestic workers) must provide its employees one hour of paid leave time for every thirty hours of work time, up to a maximum of forty leave hours. The Act also now applies to employers in the manufacturing sector, who were previously exempted. However, employers that are now covered under the Act that were not covered under the previous version have a six-month grace period in which they will not be subject to penalties for noncompliance.

Other changes in the amended version include:

  • Employees alleging a violation of the Act have two years to file a complaint.
  • Employers must keep records documenting their compliance with the Act for three years.
  • Grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings are now covered family members. Siblings include half siblings, step siblings, and adopted siblings.
  • The Mayor has the authority to designate a different agency to enforce to Act. Previously, the Department of Consumer Affairs was the agency responsible for enforcement.

Employees can use leave time granted under this Act 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 still 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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