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It is essential for employees in New York to understand their employer’s sick leave policy. Many New York City employers must offer their employees paid or unpaid sick leave. Employers who deny their employees paid sick leave may act in violation of the laws of the state of New York and New York City. When an employer denies an employee’s right to paid sick leave or retaliates against the employee for using their leave, consulting with an attorney is helpful.

If you are concerned about your employer’s paid sick leave policy, Lipsky Lowe LLP can help. Our employment law attorneys have a thorough understanding of laws that address state and local sick leave. We can help you figure out whether your employer’s policy is lawful. If your employer is violating your rights, we can help you file a claim for compensation. 

New York State Paid Sick Leave Laws

The New York State Department of Labor places sick leave, vacation time, and time off for holidays into the “time not worked” category.  Thus, New York state law does not require employers to provide employees with sick leave. But if an employer voluntarily chooses to offer paid sick leave benefits to employees, it must comply with the terms of the employment contract or established policy.  

New York labor law requires employers to make employees aware of any sick leave policies that they do allow. Employers who offer their employees sick pay benefits must publicly post their policy or notify their employees in writing as to their specific policy. Oral agreements as to paid or unpaid sick leave may be enforceable if an investigation can confirm the sick leave policy. Employers who violate this provision may be subject to civil penalties. 

Which New York City Employees Are Entitled to Paid Sick Leave?

New York City’s Paid Sick Leave Law requires for-profit and nonprofit employers with five or more employees to provide paid sick leave to their employees.  Businesses not located in New York City must offer some employees sick leave. All employees who work more than 80 hours per calendar year in New York City are entitled to sick leave. 

The following New York City employees are entitled:

  • Full-time employees
  • Part-time employees
  • Temporary employees
  • Per diem employees
  • Transitional jobs program employees
  • Undocumented worker employees

Employers must also offer paid sick leave to employees who live outside of New York City but perform work in New York City. Making deliveries or pickups to customers within New York City constitutes performing work in New York City. Employers who employ four or fewer employees must provide their employees with unpaid sick leave.

How Much Sick Leave Must Employers Offer Employees?

Employers must provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave every year. Under New York City law, employers must allow employees to earn at least one hour of sick leave per 30 hours they work. Employers must allow all employees to earn sick leave at the same rate. Employers cannot decrease the amount of leave an employee earns just because that employee is part-time.

Can an Employee Save Unpaid Sick Leave?

Employers must allow employees to carry any unused paid sick leave over into the next calendar year. Many employers offer employees their full amount of 40 hours of sick leave at the beginning of the new year. Doing so is easier than tracking each employee’s accrual of his or her paid leave. If an employer chooses to offer paid sick leave up-front, it must make the full 40 hours of sick leave available on the first day of each calendar year.

Are Domestic Workers Entitled to Paid Sick Leave?

Domestic employees who have worked for a family for at least one year are entitled to up to two days of paid sick leave per year. The employer must offer two days of paid sick leave in addition to the up to three days of paid rest as required under New York State Labor Law.

Do Employees Need to Provide a Doctor’s Note?

Employers can require their employees to provide a written statement that the employee is using sick leave as authorized under pertinent New York City law. Employers cannot require their employees to provide a doctor’s note unless the employee has used at least three consecutive workdays of sick leave.

Even if an employer may legally require a doctor’s note, the employer cannot expect that they specify the nature of the employee’s medical condition or illness. Employers must allow employees a minimum of seven days to produce documentation from a medical professional after the employee returns to work. 

Employer Retaliation

New York City labor law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who use their paid sick leave. Employers may not interfere with investigations conducted by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), which investigates employee claims under the Paid Sick Leave Law. 

If the DCA determines that an employer retaliated against an employee seeking to exercise his or her rights under the Paid Sick Leave Law, DCA can impose serious consequences against the employer. Employers who retaliate against employees may face the following consequences:

  • Paying for the employee’s lost wages
  • Paying for the employee’s lost benefits
  • Paying fines to the DCA 
  • Taking corrective actions, such as rehiring a wrongfully terminated employee

Contact Our Employment Attorney Today

Employers must comply with all relevant sick leave laws. Employees who work in New York City for an employer with five or more employees are likely entitled. If you’re concerned about your employer’s policy, the employment law attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP can help. Contact our New York City law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.