New York City Council Passes Paid Sick Leave Law Despite Mayor's Veto
July 15, 2013
The New York City Council passed the Earned Sick Time Act on June 27, 2013, overriding Mayor Bloomberg's veto. Under the Act, private sector employers with 20 or more employees within New York City will be required to offer at least 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to each employee beginning on April 1, 2014. Private sector employers with less than 20 employees within New York City will be required to offer at least 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per year to each employee beginning on April 1, 2014. Beginning on October 1, 2015, private sector employers with 15 or more employees within New York City will be required to offer at least 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to each employee, and private sector employers with less than 15 employees within New York City will continue to be required to offer at least 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per year to each employee. These implementation dates could be postponed if economic indicators based on a financial index maintained by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York do not meet certain conditions. The Act does not cover independent contractors, work study students, public sector employees, and certain types of hourly professional employees.
The Act provides that an eligible employee will earn at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. However, employers are not required to permit employees to use accrued sick leave until 120 calendar days after the commencement of employment. Part-time employees are also covered by the Act, and will earn sick leave at the same rate. Employers may provide employees with a faster accrual of sick leave than what is required by the Act, and may permit employees to use sick leave within their first 120 calendar days of employment.
Under the Act, accrued sick leave may be used for absences due to: (1) the employee's own health condition; (2) the employee's need to care for a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, or the child or parent of a spouse or domestic partner; or (3) the closure of the employee's place of business due to a public health emergency or the employee's need to care for a child whose school or child care provider has been closed due to a public health emergency. An employer may require documentation that sick leave was used for one of these purposes only if the absence is for more than three consecutive work days. The Act prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for their use of sick leave or for filing a complaint alleging a violation of the Act.
The number of employees that an employer has is determined by counting all compensated workers during a given week, including full-time, part-time, and per diem employees. If the number of employees fluctuates, the size of the employer may be determined for the current calendar year based upon the average number of employees who worked for compensation per week during the preceding calendar year. In chain businesses, the total number of employees in the group of establishments must be counted.
Employers may require reasonable notice from an employee who intends to use sick leave. If the sick leave is foreseeable, the employer may require up to seven days' notice. If the sick leave is not foreseeable, an employer may only require notice as soon as practicable.
If an employee is transferred from one location to another location within New York City, but continues to be employed by the same employer, the employee is entitled to keep his or her accrued sick leave. However, an employer is not required to provide financial or other reimbursement to an employee upon termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation, whether voluntary or involuntary, for accrued unused sick leave.
The Act does not apply to any employee covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement, as long as the provisions of the Act are expressly waived in the collective bargaining agreement and the agreement provides for a comparable benefit to covered employees in the form of paid days off. For employees in the construction or grocery industry who are covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement, there is no requirement that the agreement provide for a comparable benefit to covered employees in order for such employees to be exempt from the provisions of the Act -- it is sufficient that the collective bargaining agreement expressly waive the provisions of the Act, regardless of whether a comparable benefit is provided.