Shout out to the Empire State for reminding us that there are in fact other health concerns totally unrelated to COVID. Employers throughout the state are now required to provide sick leave to their employees. The New York State Sick Leave (NYSSL) law requires that employers provide their employees with 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.
Employees may use NYSSL sick time for the following reasons:
- Mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of employee or employee’s family member, regardless of whether it has been diagnosed or requires medical care at the time of leave.
- Diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventive care of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition for employee or employee’s family member.
- Absence because an employee or employee’s family member has been the victim of domestic violence, a family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking.
NYSSL took effect Sept. 30th, but employers are not required to allow sick leave to be taken until January 1, 2021. In the meantime, employees will accrue sick time which employers must track. Employers are required to provide information on accrual and use of sick time within 3 business days of request.
The minimum amount of sick time that employers must provide varies by employer size.
- At least 100 employees – 56 hours of paid leave
- Less than 100 employees – 40 hours of paid leave
- Less than 5 employees and net income greater than $1 million – 40 hours of paid leave
- Less than 5 employees and net income less than $1 million – 40 hours of unpaid leave
*Unused sick time carries over to the following year, but employers are not required to provide more sick time in a year than described above*
More on the NYSSL:
- Employers may set a minimum increment of sick hours, but it may not be more than 4 hours.
- Employers may not require employees to provide confidential information.
- Employers are not required to pay out unused sick time.
- NYSSL benefits are separate from COVID sick leave benefits that New York enacted in March.
Before the NYSSL became law, New York City had its own sick leave law (New York City Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law), which mandated less sick leave than the NYSSL. New York City employers must now follow the NYSSL. Also, NYC (never to be outdone by Albany) created additional requirements that went into effect on Sept 30th. In addition to NYSSL requirements, employers in New York City must:
- Reimburse employees the cost of providing documentation requested by employer for leave.
- Notify employees of changes to sick leave by October 30th and notify all new hires.
- Include sick time accrued/used during a pay period and the remaining sick leave balance on employee’s pay statements.
StraightforWARD Legal Advice:
Employers should examine their handbooks to make sure that there is no ambiguity on the specifics around NYSSL (reasons for leave, sick hours per year, unused time pay out, minimum increment of sick hours).
Employers should also examine the process for approving sick leave so that it conforms with the NYSSL and does not leave employees feeling uncomfortable or pressured to provide confidential information.