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Significant Changes to NYC Sick Leave Effective September 30, 2020

New York City’s existing Earned Safe and Sick Leave Law (ESSL) has been amended effective September 30, 2020 to align with the new New York State Paid Sick Leave Law (NYPSL). While there are still unanswered questions, it’s clear NYC employers must act immediately to remain compliant with these new obligations.

New NYC Employer Obligations

  • Employers with 100 or more employees must provide up to 56 hours of paid leave per year (was 40 hours) effective January 1, 2021.
  • Employers with four or fewer employees and a net income of $1 million or more must provide up to 40 hours of PAID leave per year (was unpaid) effective January 1, 2021.
  • Employers of all size:
    • Sick time shall begin to accrue on date of hire or effective date of law (9/30/20), whichever is later.
    • Eliminated the 80-hours-of-employment requirement.
    • No longer require current employees (regardless of hours worked) be employed for any length of time prior to using leave (there was a 120-day waiting period). Rather, current employees can use leave immediately as it accrues effective September 30, 2020.
      • It appears the 120 day waiting period will be for new hires, and for those employees who were not subject to the law before (i.e. employees working less than 80 hours), they will have an initial 120 day waiting period upon the effective date of the law.
    • Effective September 30, 2020 employers are now mandated to reimburse an employee for any costs incurred while obtaining required documentation for absences after three consecutive workdays of leave.
    • As of September 30, 2020 employers must include leave accrual, usage and balance available on an employee’s paystub, or other separate writing provided to the employee each pay period. (Note 10/29/20: employers that could not operationalize the paystub documentation requirement by September 30, 2020, but are working in good faith on implementation will have up to November 30, 2020 to ensure compliance without a penalty.)
    • Post a notice of rights in the worksite. Additionally, employers are required to provide an updated notice of rights to existing employees by October 30, 2020 (Note 10/29/20: this has been extended to January 1, 2021). Also, employers must continue to provide new employees with a notice of rights at the time of hire. A model notice will be available on the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection’s website once updated by the agency. (Note 10/29/20: this is now available, learn more)
    • While retaliation has always been prohibited, the amended law now specifically prohibits it.

No changes made to:

  • Employers with four or fewer employees and net income less than $1 million in the previous tax year are still required to provide up to 40 hours of UNPAID leave per year. See above for changes that do apply.
  • Employers with 5 to 99 employees in any calendar year are still required to provide up to 40 hours of PAID leave per year. See above for changes that do apply.
  • Calendar year means a regular and consecutive twelve month period, as determined by the employer.
  • Employers provide a minimum of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked.
  • Unused time can be carried over to the following year, but no employer is required to allow the use of more than the 40/56 hours per calendar year.
  • Unused sick time does not need to be paid out at employee termination. In NYS this must be explicitly noted in your sick leave policy.

What Do NYC Employers Need to Do Now?

  • Revise your sick leave policy.
  • Post the required notice of employee rights and provide existing employees with an updated notice by October 30, 2020.
  • Coordinate with your payroll company to begin appropriate accruals and ensuring safe/sick leave accrual, usage and balances are on employee’s paystubs.
  • If you require employees to submit documentation for absences, you must now reimburse employees for any costs associated with obtaining that documentation.


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