Per the budget bill signed by Governor Cuomo on April 3, 2020, employers in New York State will need to comply with a new mandatory sick leave law that goes into effect September 30, 2020. On that date, employees will begin to accrue sick leave and can begin using accrued sick leave beginning January 1, 2021. This sick leave legislation applies to all private employers.
In order to check this off your to-do list, we recommend reviewing your current paid time off or sick leave policy and asking the following questions:
Does your current policy provide at least the annual amount of sick leave/paid time off as required by the new law?
The amount of sick leave an employer is required to provide and whether the sick leave is to be paid or unpaid depends on the size and net income of the employer:
· Employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income of $1 million or less in the prior tax year must provide employees with up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave in each calendar year,
· Employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income of greater than $1 million in the prior tax year must provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in each calendar year,
· Employers with between 5 and 99 employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in each calendar year, and
· Employers with 100 or more employees must provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave in each calendar year.
Does it limit the reasons an employee can use accrued sick or paid time off?
An employee may use New York sick leave for the following:
· The illness, injury or health condition of an employee or their family member;
· The diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition of, or preventative care for, an employee or an employee’s family member or a ward for whom the employee is the guardian; or
· To obtain services of assistance for an employee or an employee’s family member, who is victim of domestic violence, a sexual offense, stalking or human trafficking,
If your current policy restricts the reasons an individual can request sick leave or paid time off, it should be adjusted to allow for these reasons for leave. If you have a PTO policy that does not restrict the use of leave, then you are likely in compliance.
Does it use the accrual method or front-load method of granting time off?
Under the new law, employees must accrue leave at a rate of no less than 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, up to the maximum accruals set forth above. Employees can use the time in accordance with increments set by the employer, provided the minimum increment is not greater than 4 hours. An employer may front-load the sick leave accruals (that is, provide them for employees’ use prior to their accrual); however, please note that if an employer does so, they will not be able to reduce it later based on actual accruals. Employers are not required to pay out sick leave upon termination.
Does your current policy allow employees to carry over accrued, unused sick/paid time off?
If your sick or PTO policy includes a “use it or lose it” provision, take note that the new sick leave law permits employees to carry over accrued, unused sick leave. However, employers may limit the carry over amount to the maximum accruals set forth above.
If you do not have a paid time off or sick leave policy, now is the time to adopt one to demonstrate your compliance. If you have any questions about how to get started on a new policy or updating an existing policy, we are here to help.