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NYC Earned Sick Leave Law expanded just before April 1 effective date

On March 7, 2014 by Schnader in Labor and Employment

By Scott J. Wenner

As promised, as one of his first orders of business New York City’s new mayor asked the City Council to amend the Earned Sick Time Act, which was enacted over former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto.  Our blog reported on this ordinance here, here and here.  It was not surprising that the overwhelmingly Democratic Council delivered the amendments Mayor Bill de Blasio requested. The amendments extend coverage of the legislation to 500,000 more workers and moved up the timetable for implementation to April 1, 2014 for all covered employers – now including employers with five or more employees.

The legislation passed last year just covered employers with 15 or more employees and the April 1 compliance date originally applied only to those employing 20 or more, phasing in employers with 15 to 19 employees on October 1, 2015.

The new ordinance, dubbed the Expansion of Earned Sick Time Act, made the following changes to the Earned Sick Time Act as originally enacted in mid-2013:

  • Added grandparents, grandchildren and siblings to the definition of “family member” under the Earned Sick Time Act.  (The Earned Sick Time Act permits covered employees to use earned sick time to care for family members who are ill.)
  • Removed exemptions in the original Act for certain manufacturers and mills, as well as bakeries, custom tailors and candy stores.
  • Extended paid sick leave coverage to employers of five or more employees, as noted above, lowering the coverage threshold from 15 workers.  Employers with fewer than five employees still must provide unpaid sick leave (as the prior law already required them to do.)
  • Eliminated the phasing in of coverage of the Act to any group of employers, so that the Act becomes effective simultaneously to all covered employers this April 1.

While the Earned Sick Time Act presently is to be administered by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), the new amendments grant authority to the Mayor to reassign that responsibility to another agency. If this provision suggests that the City Council lacks confidence in the DCA, perhaps that lack of confidence stems in part from DCA’s failure as of this late date to publish an informational form notice to employees for which it is responsible. The Act requires employers to distribute notices about the law to all new employees beginning April 1.

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