As we highlighted earlier this week, Governor Cuomo has enacted a statewide sick leave law allowing most New York employees to accrue up to 40 or 56 hours of annual paid sick leave, depending on the size of their employers. [CLICK HERE TO REVIEW SEPTEMBER 30 EMPLOYMENT LAW ALERT].
As anticipated, New York City has amended its Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (the “Act”) to align with the State’s more generous provisions for very small and large employers. The amendments, effective September 30th, impose additional requirements on NYC employers and clarify certain provisions related to violations of the Act.
Increased Amounts of Paid Sick/Safe Leave
Since 2014, NYC employers with five or more employees (or one or more domestic employees) have been obligated under the Act to provide 40 hours of paid safe/sick leave per year. Now, in line with the State law:
- employers of four or fewer employees that had a net income of $1 million or more during the previous tax year also must provide accrual (as of September 30, 2020) and use (as of January 1, 2021) of up to 40 hours of leave per year;
- employers with 100 or more employees must allow accrual (as of September 30, 2020) and use (as of January 1, 2021) of up to 56 hours of leave per year; and
- all other NYC employers must continue to provide for up to 40 hours of leave per year.
Other Significant Changes
- There is no longer a requirement that an employee must work 80 hours within New York City to be eligible for leave. Now, any employee who is employed by a covered employer within NYC is eligible for safe/sick leave.
- Employers now must provide on employee pay statements (or in a separate writing provided to employees each pay period) the amount of safe/sick time accrued and used during the pay period and a total balance.
- If an employer requests supporting documentation from a doctor or other third party in connection with safe/leave time, it must reimburse employees for any attendant fees, costs or expenses.
Changes in Enforcement/Penalties
- The prohibition against retaliation is extended to include any adverse action that penalizes an employee for or is reasonably likely to deter an employee from exercising rights to safe/sick time.
- In the event of potential violation of any provision of the Act, New York City may open an administrative investigation upon its own initiative or may file a civil action.
- Fines on employer violations include penalties ranging from $500 to $2,500, imposed on a per employee basis.
- Civil penalties for a finding that an employer has engaged in a pattern or practice of violations are capped at $15,000, plus $500 to each covered employee.
Employers must also post an updated notice of rights under the Act and provide such notice to all new hires upon commencement of employment and to current employees by October 30, 2020.
Next Steps for Employers
New York City employers should review their current PTO and safe/sick time policies to ensure compliance with the new State and City laws. NYC employers also should take steps to meet the notice and posting requirements under the amended Act. Please feel free to reach out to NFC for assistance in this regard.