Last updated Aug. 31, 2017.
Got a bad case of the sniffles or a stomach bug? You need to rest at home. And if you happen to work in New York City, your employer is required to pay for that rest.
In April of 2014, NYC passed the Earned Sick Time Act, also known as the Paid Sick Leave Law, to give certain employees who work in NYC paid time off for illness.
The following is a brief summation of the law and its impact, including who’s covered, how much leave you’re entitled to, if it rolls over, if it’s unpaid or paid, and if you can use it for anything else.
Who does the NY Paid Sick Leave Law cover?
The Paid Sick Leave Law has a generous threshold for eligibility: all employees who work in NYC at least eighty (80) hours or more in a calendar year are covered. This includes part-time employees, undocumented employees, and employees who live outside of NYC.
The law exempts select employees, such as government workers, students working on scholarship or through a federal aid program, independent contractors, and certain union workers.
How much leave do I get, and does it roll over?
Employers must grant qualified employees one (1) hour of sick leave for every thirty (30) hours worked, up to forty (40) hours in a “calendar year.” A calendar year is any 12-month period as defined by your employer.
For existing employees, sick time began accruing as soon as the law was passed in April 2014. New employees hired after the law’s passage, however, have to work 120 days before their sick time begins accruing. Further, the accrual of sick time for union employees is governed by their respective collective bargaining agreements.
Unused sick leave does roll over to the next calendar year. However, under the law, your employer is only required to give you a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year, whether that time is “rolled over” or not.
See also: Wage & Hour Claims, FMLA and Other Leave Claims
Is sick leave paid? Can it be used for anything else?
Whether your sick leave is paid or unpaid depends upon the size of the employer. Employers with five (5) or more employees must pay workers on sick leave their regular hourly wage, which must meet the minimum wage. However, employers with fewer than five employees do not need to pay wages for sick leave.
Please note that if you take sick leave when you are scheduled to work overtime hours, your employer is not required to compensate you at the overtime rate, only your regular rate. Also, restaurant workers, hairdressers, and other service workers who rely on tips should know that the law does not require employers to compensate you for lost tips.
Finally, your sick time cannot be used for other purposes that are not medical-related. Your earned sick time must be used to care for your own medical condition, or that of a family member. Under the law, such “family members” include domestic partners, adopted or foster children, children of domestic partners, and any child over which an employee has assumed a parental relationship.
To ensure employees aren’t using sick leave for non-medical purposes, your employer is entitled to require certification by your health care professional if you take three or more consecutive workdays of sick leave. However, the Paid Sick Leave Law prohibits your employer from requiring your health care professional to specify the exact medical condition prompting your leave.
I Didn’t Get the Paid Leave I’m Entitled. What do I do?
If you believe your employer has unlawfully denied you paid sick leave, or retaliated against you for using or requesting such leave, you may file a complaint with the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs.
Your employer is prohibited from retaliating against you for taking paid sick leave, or even requesting to take paid sick leave. “Retaliation” includes adverse employment actions such as termination, false discipline, and demotion.
Have a question about sick leave? Contact us online or call our offices today for a free consultation.
- Discriminated or Retaliated Against at Work? What to Do
- How Long Does a Discrimination Case Take?
- Are Discrimination Lawsuit Settlements Taxable?
- Workers’ Compensation Retaliation: Legal Remedies in New York and New Jersey
- Time off for Work for Religious Observances: What is Reasonable and What is Undue Hardship?
Join the conversation