Last updated on October 19th, 2020
Why is it so important to learn about The New York Paid Sick Leave (NYSPSL) law that was passed back in April, right now? Because in just two short weeks, accruals of NYSPSL must begin, so that means employers need to be ready. For the first time in New York State’s history, this sick leave requirement ensures that the vast majority of workers in the state have the right to paid sick time for a variety of reasons that we will outline below. It also prohibits employers from firing or retaliating against workers for taking sick time. This new law is applicable to all private employers regardless of size. Employers with between 5 and 99 employees (and employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income of greater than $1 million in the prior tax year) must provide each employee with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employer with 100 or more employees must provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers with less than four employees and a net income under $1 million still need to provide five unpaid sick days. Who qualifies? Full-time, part-time, temporary, seasonal, and per diem employees.
Do I still need to pay attention if I already give my team sick leave?
If you’re an employer reading this and thinking, well I already provide paid sick leave for my employees so this update doesn’t pertain to me, stop moving your mouse towards the close out button, and keep reading. It’s crucial that you’re aware of the new changes in place so your policy and procedures, as well as your employee handbook, plainly outline the new guidance. If you fail to clearly communicate these changes to your employees, you could be walking into a litigation nightmare. For example, in most PTO policies do not start at date of hire, nor do they start allowing for accruals to start immediately, and they don’t typically include a 40 hour annual roll over. Well, that’s all about to change. Supervisors and managers need to be well versed in these updates to avoid potential risk for retaliation, discrimination and litigation. Keeping yourself and your team in the loop with all of these changes is important to protect your business, so be diligent!
When can employees start using NYPSL?
Employees will begin accruing NYPSL on September 30, 2020 however, employees may only begin using NYPSL on January 1, 2021. New employees hired after January 1, 2021 may use NYPSL immediately upon accrual. Employees accrue 1 hour for every 30 hours they work. Employers have the option to frontload the 40 hours on January 1st or start accruing on Sept 30th. If you’re operating in an industry that has a workforce base with a lot of part-time workers, a consistently high turnover rate, or seasonal temps working multiple shifts, it makes more financial sense to go on an accrual basis. Frontloading is recommended for industries with low turnover and more fulltime/exempt employees, because these businesses will find less fluctuation in calculations.
So how can an employee use their NYPSL?
Employees can use it for a variety of reasons. Beyond using NYPSL for an employee’s own mental or physical illness, or injury, the expanded list includes use for a family member illness or for victims of sexual and domestic violence. Employers may set a reasonable increment for the use of NYPSL, the maximum for which may not exceed four hours.
Should I be keeping a record of sick leave usage?
Short answer: Yes! You’re now required to keep track of accrual and use records, and you need to make this information available within three days of an employee’s request. If your business isn’t already using an electronic system to organize your payroll or time tracking, you’ll quickly realize how very cumbersome and tedious this new tracking system can be. If this change is exposing a glaring issue in your business structure, it could be time to modernize your system to create more fluidity in your workflow.
What steps should my business take in light of this new law?
Employers should start reviewing existing leave policies, including attendance and incentive programs to determine whether they meet the new requirements and should update employee handbooks as necessary. New York employers will have to implement paid sick leave policies if they do not currently have leave available to employees, which may require a review or overhaul of other leave or PTO policies. Employers can adjust an existing policy but the language needs to include use, accrual and carry over according to the Department of Labor guidelines.
We are still waiting on further guidance from New York State regarding some outstanding questions related to the PSL legislation. We will continue to make you aware of updates and information from the state as the law continues to take shape. If you need immediate assistance implementing this new law, feel free to contact Visions Human Resource Services, LLC by emailing Jgiannetta@VisionsHR.com for more information.