New York State last spring enacted a new paid sick leave law that goes into effect Sept. 30, 2020.
Employers should note that while employees begin accruing paid sick leave on that date, workers may not begin using the accrued time off until Jan. 1, 2021. New employees who are hired after Sept. 30 will begin accruing paid sick leave at the start of their employment.
Paid Sick Leave in New York State
Signed into law April 3, New York’s paid sick leave law has different requirements based on an employer’s number of workers.
- Large employers (100 or more workers): 56 hours of paid sick leave per year
- Small employers (5-99 workers): 40 hours of paid sick leave per year
There are also provisions for smaller companies based on their net income.
Regardless of business size or income, employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, which aligns with New York City’s Earned Safe and Sick Time Act.
Other items for employers to note:
- Employees using paid sick leave must be paid their regular rate of pay
- Frontloading of the paid leave is allowed, and employees can carry over unused time
- Job protection and anti-retaliation language are included in the legislation
- Employers must keep records of accrued paid sick leave
Finally, after Jan. 1, 2021, employees may use paid sick leave as they accrue it.
Covered Reasons for Using Paid Sick Leave
Employees may use paid sick leave in New York State to care for themselves or a family member. There are several covered reasons for use:
- Physical injury or sickness
- Mental illness
- Diagnosis, care or treatment
- Safe leave to deal with domestic violence, human trafficking or sexual offenses
Meanwhile, family member is defined as child, parent, spouse, grandchild, grandparent and sibling, and includes domestic partners and their respective family members. Also, parent can be biological, adoptive, foster, legal guardian and those who acted as the parent when the child was a minor.
Paid Sick Leave and the Coronavirus
While New York State did implement a temporary paid sick leave measure to combat the impacts of the coronavirus, the legislation discussed above will be permanent.
Still, the effects of COVID-19 have already begun impacting paid leave laws. Many jurisdictions have tweaked existing laws to cover public health emergencies. And Colorado recently passed a new paid sick leave law that includes additional paid time off in the event of a coronavirus-like emergency.
The pandemic has prompted lawmakers to highlight the need for paid leave legislation. But before that, jurisdictions at all levels of government had begun passing paid leave laws.
With the varying requirements for use, waiting periods, covered reasons and more, paid leave laws have become increasingly difficult to manage across state, county and city borders.
As the U.S. continues to work through the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be interesting to see how new paid leave legislation is crafted and whether there will be a tide of changes to existing laws to cover public health emergencies.