New York State Funeral Directors Association

As part of legislation passed earlier this year within the 2021 State budget is a new statewide paid sick leave law which took effect September 1, 2020. Under the law, beginning September 30 employees will begin accruing leave time for use starting January 1, 2021. As described below, the new leave provisions, which amend the NY Labor Law, will require New York employers of all sizes to provide a certain amount of paid or unpaid sick leave to be used for certain medical and employee safety-related reasons.

Read more summary of the new law:


Amount of Leave
Under the new sick leave provisions:

  • employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income of less than $1 million in the prior tax year must provide employees with up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave.
  • 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.
  • employers with between 5 and 99 employees must provide each employee with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.
  • employers with 100 or more employees will provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year.

Employees must accrue sick leave at a rate of at least 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. Alternatively, employers may fulfill their obligation under the law by providing the full amount of sick leave in a lump sum at the beginning of each year. For purposes of the law, a year is defined as a calendar year (January 1 through December 31).

Unused sick leave carries over to the following year, though employers with fewer than 100 employees may limit the use of sick leave to 40 hours per year and employers with 100 or more employees may limit the use of sick leave to 56 hours per year.

An employer is not required to pay an employee for any unused sick leave upon that employee’s termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment.

Using Sick Leave
An employee may take sick leave for the following reasons:

  • the need for diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness or preventative care of the employee or the employee’s family member; and
  • certain needs related to the employee or the employee’s family member being the victim of domestic violence, sexual offenses, stalking, or human trafficking, including obtaining services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other services program; participating in safety planning; temporarily or permanently relocating; meeting with an attorney or participating in legal proceedings; enrolling children in a new school; or taking other actions to increase the safety of the employee or employee’s family members

For purposes of this leave, a “family member” includes an employee’s child (including foster child, legal ward, or equivalent legal relationship), spouse, domestic partner, parent (including a step- or foster parent, legal guardian, or equivalent legal relationship), sibling, grandchild, grandparent, and the child or parent of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner.

Employers may set a reasonable minimum daily increment for the use of sick leave of no greater than four (4) hours.

Existing Leave Policies/Laws
Employers need not provide additional leave if they already maintain a sick leave or other paid leave policy that provides employees with the same or greater amount of leave as required under the law and which otherwise satisfies the law’s accrual, carryover, and usage requirements.

Importantly, the new statewide law expressly states that it does not preempt or diminish existing city- or county-level paid sick leave laws. As such, employers already covered by the New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA) or the Westchester County paid sick leave law must continue to provide employees with leave that meets or exceeds the requirements of both the statewide and local laws.

Recordkeeping
Employers will be required to keep contemporaneous records showing the amount of sick leave provided to each employee under the law. Such records must be maintained for a minimum of six (6) years.

Upon the oral or written request of an employee, an employer will be required to provide a summary of the amounts of sick leave accrued and used by the employee in the current calendar year and/or any previous calendar year. Such information must be provided to the employee within three business days of such request.

Regulations
The New York Department of Labor is authorized to issue regulations and guidance to relating to the new law, including but not limited to standards for the accrual, use, payment, and employee eligibility of sick leave. We will continue to monitor and report on any further developments.

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