Understanding the Earned Sick Time Act

What is the Earned Sick Time Act? What rights do this new law confer on employees?

The New York City Council worked hard to pass this Act,
which allows many New York City employees the opportunity to take up to 40 hours of paid sick leave annually. [Ineligible employees can still get 40 hours of unpaid sick leave.] The City Council advocated for this for months and finally got the law passed on May 8, 2013. At the time, Mayor Bloomberg swore that he would veto the Act, but the City Council had enough votes to override Bloomberg’s veto. The Act will take effect on April 1, 2014, as long as the local economy is doing better than it had been doing in January 2012, as assessed by New York’s Independent Budget Office.

Who is eligible?
Anyone hired in New York City who works 80 plus hours in a calendar year — who does part time or full time work — can collect benefits under the Earned Sick Time Act. Those who are ineligible include independent contractors (people New York Labor Law would not deem to be “employees”); licensed employees of the New York State Department of Education; and people paid at a premium rate, who call in for work assignments.

The Act does not apply to government employees or public employers
, and it will apply to companies that have 15 or more employees. (For the first 18 months of the program, it will only apply to private employers with 20 or more employees). If your employer does not accrue sick leave during a calendar year, you may carry over unused hours. However, employers can limit the total amount of paid sick leave to just 40 hours a week.

The Act is pretty broad in terms of how it defines sick leave. Per the language: a sickness is defined as “the employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or health condition.” People can also take paid sick leave to help care for family members who are sick or otherwise in need of care, pursuant to certain conditions.

Do you need help understanding your rights with respect to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or New York Labor Law (NYLL)? Connect with the team here at Joseph & Kirschenbaum today at (212) 688-5640 or info@jhllp.com for a free consultation.