On March 20, 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed amendments to the New York City Earned Sick Time Act which, according to his administration, will extend the right to paid sick leave to a half million more New Yorkers. The Act, including the recent amendments, takes effect on April 1, 2014, and requires private employers with at least five employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year. The recent amendments expand the definition of “family members” to include grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings to those who can be cared for with paid sick time; omit an exemption in the original Act for employers in the manufacturing industry; increase the time period for employers to maintain records of their compliance with the Act to three years; and increase the statute of limitations for filing a complaint alleging a violation of the Act to two years. The Act and the recent amendments are discussed in greater detail in the June 2013 and January 2014 issues of the New York eAuthority.

After the bill was signed, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs published on its website a form notice. According to the Department’s guidance, employers must distribute notices to new employees by their first day of employment; and, for existing employees, notices are required by May 1, 2014. The Act encourages, but does not require, that employers conspicuously post this notice in an area accessible to employees. The Department’s website also contains additional guidance materials for employers, including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that discuss carryover, use of sick time, rate of pay for sick leave, rate of accrual for employees who telecommute, and penalties for violations of the law. New York City employers should be aware that, even if their existing paid time-off policies comply with the Act, there are penalties of $50 per employee for failure to provide the required notices. We therefore strongly recommend that New York City employers review this guidance together with their existing policies to ensure compliance with the Act.

While the Act only applies to employees who work in New York City, legislation is pending in Albany that would provide paid family leave and increase disability benefits to employees throughout New York State. Earlier this month, the New York State Assembly passed a paid family leave bill that would require all New York State private employers to provide up to 12 weeks of continuous and intermittent leave for child bonding and family care, raise the disability benefit formula for all disability and family care claims, and increase the maximum weekly benefit. Similar bills have been introduced in the New York State Senate.

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