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Empire State Alert: New York State Sick Leave Is Finally Here (US)

As we reported here, among the sweeping pieces of legislation signed during the early periods of the COVID-19 pandemic was the passage of New York’s permanent statewide sick leave law.  Under the New York statewide sick leave law, all employers in New York State are required to provide sick leave.  The law takes effect on September 30, 2020 and employees will begin accruing leave on that date; however, employees are not eligible to begin using accrued leave until January 1, 2021.

The amount of sick leave is determined by an employer’s size and net income in a given calendar year[1]:

  • Employers with 4 or fewer employees & a net income of less than $1 million must provide up to 40 hours (5 days) of unpaid sick leave per year;

  • Employers with 4 or fewer employees & a net income greater than $1 million and employers with 5-99 employees must provide up to 40 hours (5 days) of paid sick leave per year; and

  • Employers with 100 or more employees must provide up to 56 hours (7 days) of paid sick leave per year.

Beginning September 30, 2020, or upon hire if after that date, employees will accrue sick leave at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked in New York, unless the employer elects to frontload all sick time at the beginning of the year.  Employees may begin using sick leave on January 1, 2021.

Employers may set a reasonable minimum increment for sick leave use, which cannot exceed 4 hours.  Employees may take sick leave for any of the following:

  • The employee’s or their family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, or for the diagnosis, care or treatment of same, regardless of whether such illness, injury, or health condition has been diagnosed or requires medical care at the time that the employee requests the sick leave, or for preventive care; or

  • If the employee or their family member has been the victim of domestic violence, a family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking, in order to:

    • obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other services program;

    • participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocate, or take other actions to increase the safety of the employee or employee’s family members;

    • meet with an attorney or other social services provider to obtain information and advice on, and prepare for or participate in any criminal or civil proceeding;

    • file a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement;

    • meet with a district attorney’s office;

    • enroll children in a new school; or

    • take any other actions necessary to ensure the health or safety of the employee or the employee’s family member or to protect those who associate or work with the employee.

The law defines family member as an employee’s: child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild or grandparent; and the child or parent of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner.  Parent is defined as a biological, foster, step- or adoptive parent, or a legal guardian of an employee, or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child.  Child is defined as any biological, adopted or foster child, a legal ward, or a child of an employee standing in loco parentis.

An employee’s unused sick leave must be carried over to the following calendar year.

In addition, employers may not require employees to disclose confidential information in verifying an employee’s need for sick leave under the law.  Employees may also request, either in writing or orally, a summary of the amount of sick leave accrued and used by the employee, which the employer shall provide within three business days of such request.

Employers in New York should review and update their sick leave policies to comply with this law.

[1] To determine an employer’s size, a calendar year is defined as the 12-month period from January 1 through December 31.

© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 273



About this Author

Ariel S. Cohen Labor & Employment Attorney Squire Patton Boggs Columbus, OH

Ariel Cohen counsels and represents clients in all aspects of labor and employment law, with a focus on multistate matters and the implications of marijuana legislation in the workplace.

Ariel serves companies of all sizes and helps employers resolve charges of discrimination and other disputes before administrative agencies, as well as provides pre and pending litigation support for a wide variety of employment matters. Ariel also offers e-discovery expertise, including the review of more than a half-million documents.

Ariel is well versed in all aspects of federal, state...

Lauren Herz Labor & Employment Attorney Squire Patton Boggs New York, NY

Lauren Herz represents companies in a wide variety of matters that arise out of the employment relationship. She serves clients in a broad range of industries and has significant experience in the fashion and beauty industries.

Lauren provides pre- and pending litigation support on many different types of employment disputes, including wage and hour litigation, and harassment and discrimination matters. She also assists in the representation of clients in Department of Labor audits of wage and hour practices. She is well versed in advising clients on matters involving employee discipline, terminations, workforce reductions, absence management, FMLA, disability and on other general employment law compliance issues. Lauren has conducted multiple employee investigations, including complex harassment and discrimination allegations. She has also provided hours of in-person training to managers and human resource professionals in key areas of employment law compliance.

Lauren supports clients in their day-to-day needs on a variety of employment matters, including reviewing employment policies and procedures, and drafting employment agreements.

Prior to joining the firm, Lauren was a human resources manager for a cosmetics brand, where her work included advising senior management on employee relations matters. Lauren has also supported all areas of human resources, including onboarding, compliance, reporting, payroll/benefits administration, and recruitment.

While in law school, Lauren gained valuable experience interning in the legal departments of Burberry and Prada. Additionally, she was selected for a prestigious clinic position with the New York Innocence Project. Lauren also served as an editor of the Moot Court Honors Society. Lauren was the recipient of the Jacob Burns Medal, awarded for outstanding contribution to her law school.