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New York City's Paid Sick Leave Law: What Employers Need to Know

Beginning April 1, 2014, under New York City's Earned Sick Time Act (Paid Sick Leave Law), virtually every employer of New York City employees will be required to provide its employees up to 40 hours of sick leave every calendar year.

The law represents a major expansion of employee rights. In this blog, I will outline the major elements of this significant legislation.


Which Employers Are Covered by the Law

The law covers all private businesses and non-profits that employ individuals within the five boroughs of New York City. The law does not apply to government employees or certain employees subject to a collective bargaining agreement.

The law provides that employers with five or more employees who are hired to work more than 80 hours a calendar year in New York City must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave to those employees, which must be paid at the employee's regular hourly rate (but not less than the minimum wage). Employers with 1 to 4 employees who work more than 80 hours a calendar year must provide unpaid sick leave.

Because an employer must count all employees who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year in determining the number of employees, this threshold will easily encompass part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees, potentially requiring even small businesses with a few part-time employees to provide paid sick leave.

Employers based outside of New York City must comply with the law with respect to employees who work more than 80 hours per calendar year in New York City. The law applies regardless of whether or not the employee lives in New York City.

How Does Sick Leave Accrue

Sick leave accrues at the rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. Sick leave begins to accrue on April 1, 2014 for existing employees, and on the first day of employment for new employees. An existing employee can begin to use sick leave on July 30, 2014, while new employees can begin to use sick leave 120 days after their first day of employment.

Record Keeping Requirements

The law requires that employers keep and maintain records documenting their compliance for at least three years. An employer must make records available to the Department of Consumer Affairs upon reasonable notice to ensure compliance.

According to Stephanie Wilson, a New York City based manager at BenefitMall, a payroll processing firm, this presents a potential trap for employers who fail to maintain proper records regarding their employees' accrual and use of sick leave. Accordingly, her firm has begun to maintain accrual reports for its clients as part of its payroll processing services, and advises every employer to implement some recordkeeping function if their payroll firm does not do so.

Notice of Employee Rights

Every employer subject to the law must provide each employee who was already employed as of April 1, 2014 with written notice of the employee's rights by May 1, 2014, and all employees employed thereafter with written notice on the first day of their employment. The written notice must advise the employee of their rights regarding the accrual and use of sick leave, the right to file a complaint and the right to be free from retaliation for use of sick leave, and must further state the start and end date for the employer's calendar year. A copy of the required notice is available at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dca/downloads/pdf/MandatoryNotice.pdf.

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I wish to acknowledge my colleague Jason Klimpl for his informative note discussing the Paid Sick Leave Law, which I recommend to those interested in a more detailed treatment of the law.

Frank J. Monteleone

Frank J. Monteleone

Monteleone Law

11 Broadway, Suite 615

New York, NY 10004

fjm@monteleonelaw.com