New York Passes Permanent Sick Leave Law

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

April 10, 2020

New York has enacted a new law requiring all employers to provide sick leave to their employees. Unlike the temporary provisions for paid sick leave included in an emergency relief bill passed in March, the new sick leave law is permanent and allows small employers to provide unpaid sick leave.

Under the new sick leave law:

  • Employers with one to four employees and a net income in the prior tax year of less than $1┬ámillion must provide employees up to 40 hours of unpaid leave;
  • Employers with one to four employees and a net income in the prior tax year of $1 million or more must provide employees up to 40 hours of paid leave;
  • Employers with five to 99 employees must provide employees up to 40 hours of paid leave; and
  • Employers with 100 or more employees must provide employees up to 56 hours of paid leave.

Employees will accrue sick leave at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked, or employers may allocate the full amount of annual sick leave as a lump sum at the beginning of each calendar year. However, an employer that frontloads the total amount of sick leave as a lump-sum may not reduce or revoke any such sick leave based on the number of hours actually worked by an employee during the year.

Sick leave may be used for:

  • A mental or physical illness, injury or health condition of an employee or an employee's family member;
  • The diagnosis, care or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition of, or need for medical diagnosis of or preventive care for, an employee or employee's family member; or
  • An absence from work for certain specified reasons related to when an employee or an employee's family member has been the victim of domestic violence, a family offense, sexual offense, stalking or human trafficking.

Employers are prohibited from discharging, threatening, penalizing or otherwise discriminating or retaliating against an employee for requesting or using sick leave or exercising any right under the sick leave law.

Under the law, employees may carry over unused sick leave hours. However, employers may limit the number of hours an employee may use each calendar year to 40 hours for employers of fewer than 100 employees or 56 hours for employers of 100 or more employees. Employers are not required to pay out unused sick leave when an employee separates from employment.

The paid sick leave law was passed April 3 as part of New York's 2021 budget. It becomes effective, and employees begin accruing sick leave, on September 30, 2020. However, employers are not required to allow employees to use their sick leave benefits until January 1, 2021.