Apr 14, 2014

Expanded New York City Paid Sick Leave Law Is Now in Effect

The recently amended Earned Sick Time Act (“ESTA”) became effective on April 1, 2014 in New York City and now requires employers with five or more employees to provide paid sick leave to full and part-time employees who work at least 80 hours in a calendar year.  Employers with fewer than five employees are required to provide unpaid sick leave.  The effective date of the ESTA was accelerated, and the scope of the law was greatly expanded by a recent amendment.  All employers in New York City need to become familiar with its requirements, including recordkeeping and retention, or risk civil penalties.

Here are some highlights:

  • The effective date is April 1, 2014 for all employers, unless a collective bargaining agreement is in place
  • A Notice of Employee Rights must be given to existing covered employees by May 1, 2014, and to new employees on their first day of employment; the Notice is available on the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs website
  • The law now covers employers of five or more employees and employers of one or more domestic workers (as originally enacted the law applied to employers of 15 or more employees)
  • Covered employees include domestic workers (provided the domestic worker has been employed for at least one year)
  • Covered employees are entitled to up to 40 hours of paid sick time a year; domestic workers are entitled to two paid sick days per year (in addition to three paid days of rest which they may be entitled to under New York State law)
  • Employers can require an employee to use sick time in minimum increments not to exceed four hours (an employer cannot require a full day of leave but can require leave to be taken in half-day increments)
  • Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time to the next calendar year, but are not permitted to do so if employers pay them for earned but unused time; also, employers are not required to allow an employee to use more than 40 hours of paid sick leave in a calendar year
  •  “Family members” can be cared for with earned sick time and are defined to include children, spouses, domestic partners, parents, grandparents, grandchildren and siblings (which include an employee’s half sibling, step sibling, and adopted siblings)
  • The manufacturing sector is included
  • Employers are required to retain records of compliance for three years
  • Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who requests and uses sick leave or files a complaint for alleged violations of the law
  • The statute of limitations for filing a complaint for an alleged violation is three years
  • The agency designated by the mayor to enforce the law is authorized to impose penalties for violations and order equitable relief and payment of monetary damages

If you have not already done so, you should determine whether the ESTA applies to your employees and review your existing policies to ensure compliance, including mandated record keeping.  The Department of Consumer Affairs also promulgated the following bulletin that can be accessed on its website: “Paid Sick Leave: What Employers Need to Know.”

There are various provisions of the ESTA that need clarification, and the Department of Consumer Affairs will hold a hearing on April 29, 2014 on proposed Rules.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding compliance with the ESTA, please do not hesitate to contact your Labor and Employment Counsel.

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