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NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Signs The Earned Sick Time Act

Need to call in sick in the Big Apple? Well, you may now be entitled to mandatory paid sick time, thanks to a new law effective April 1, 2014.

deBlasioOn March 20, 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law legislation that will require private sector employers with five or more employees to provide paid sick leave—and smaller employers to provide unpaid leave—to eligible employees who work in New York City. To ensure compliance with the new law, which went into effect April 1, 2014, employers will need to evaluate their leave policies and recordkeeping practices, as well as prepare employee notices.

This law is known as the Earned Sick Time Act, which requires employers who have employees working in the City of New York to have a minimum amount of job protected sick time. As of April 1, 2014, employers with five or more employees must provide both eligible full and part-time employees with a minimum amount of paid sick leave. Employers with less than five employees will be required to provide sick leave, but unpaid. To determine applicable size, all full-time, part-time and temporary employees that work within the City of New York for more than 80 hours in a calendar year are counted. Telecommuters are included based on where they are located, and not where their employers are physically located.

The law also allows for accruals and carryover of sick time. For employers with five or more employees, the accrual rate is one paid hour per 30 hours worked, capped at 40 hours per year. For employers with less than five employees, the accrual rate is one unpaid hour per 30 hours worked, capped at 40 hours per year. The only restriction is the employee must be on the job for 120 days in order to begin using the accrued sick time. Up to 40 hours of unused paid sick leave must be carried over to the following year, unless two conditions are met. One, the employee is paid for any unused sick time at the end of the calendar year in which it is accrued. And two, the employer must provide the employee with an amount of paid sick time that meets or exceeds the law’s minimum requirements for the next calendar year on the first day of that year.o

The sick time can be used for their own illness or a family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, and/or medical condition. It can also be used for care or treatment, and preventive medical care. A family member is defined as an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, grandparent, sibling or the child of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner. It can also be used for issues relating to the closure of a place of business, or a child’s school or day care due to a public health emergency. An employer may require written documentation for the reason an employee is taking sick leave for an absence of more than 3 consecutive days.

Employers must notify employees in writing of their rights to the newly mandated sick time. This notice can be found on the City’s government website. It is required to be provided to all new hires after April 1, 2014, on their first day of employment, and to existing employees by May 1, 2014. Employers must also keep records of hours worked by employees, as well as the sick time accrued and used for a three-year period.

Be sure to pay attention to the notifications and record keeping activities associated with this new law. Your current PTO policies may suffice, but may have restrictions that do not meet the new law’s requirements. At a minimum, a thorough review of your company’s HR policies around sick time is strongly recommended.