Sick from Coronavirus? Here is What You Need to Know About New York City Paid Safe and Sick Leave Laws

By LaDonna Lusher and Paige Piazza

New York has quickly become one of the largest clusters of the novel coronavirus within the nation. Many employees now face the decision of staying home in order to protect themselves and others from exposure to the virus. It is important if you are experiencing any symptoms to seek medical attention and notify your employer immediately.

Currently under New York State Labor Laws, employers are not required to provide employees with paid sick leave. New York State law only requires employers notify their employees, in writing, of their policies on sick leave and other unworked hours such as vacation or holiday. Due to coronavirus concerns, Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed paid sick leave that would cover almost all New York employees.

In New York City, however, employers are required to offer paid sick leave under the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA). Under the act employers are required to provide paid sick leave if they employ 5 or more people who work for more than 80 hours per calendar year. Employees that are covered under the law include:

  • Full Time Employees
  • Part time Employees
  • Temporary Employees
  • Undocumented Employees
  • Employees who live outside of New York City
  • Employees who are family members but not owners

If qualified, employees are entitled to up to 40 hours of paid leave per year which begins to accrue on the first day of employment and can start being used 120 days thereafter. Safe and Sick leave accrues at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. Employees must be paid at their regular hourly rate, and not any less than the current minimum wage in New York City. Employers can require documentation if the employee’s sick leave lasts longer than four days; however, the law prohibits employers from requiring documentation with specific reasoning for leave.

In 2018, New York City amended the requirements in order to expand and clarify the previous policy conditions. Employers are now required to provide employees with a Notice of Rights upon hire, which details all paid leave policies. The revisions also clarify the guidelines as to who is considered a “family member,” broadening the scope to anyone whose relationship is the equivalent of family. They also attempt to expand the use of paid leave by adding “safe time” for individuals or their family members who become victims to domestic violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking.

If you become sick and must take time off from work, you may want to consult with an attorney about your right to receive paid sick leave.

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