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Legal Alert

NYC Employers Must Comply With New Safe And Sick Leave Obligations

9.29.20

Just days before New York’s statewide paid sick leave law (NYPSL) takes effect on September 30, the New York City council passed a suite of amendments to NYC’s existing Earned Safe and Sick Leave Law (ESSL), in part aligning safe and sick leave obligations with the impending NYPSL and in part creating new obligations under the ESSL. The amendments to the ESSL were signed into law by Mayor DeBlasio on September 28 and take effect on September 30. 

Meanwhile, with just one day to go until the NYPSL’s effective date, the state has not yet issued any guidance or regulations on NYPSL, leaving employers with many unanswered questions with respect to their obligations under the state safe/sick leave law due to ambiguities in the statute’s language. Despite many unknowns regarding NYPSL, it is clear that employers in NYC must take immediate action to comply with the new obligations under the ESSL created by the recent amendments.

What Do New York City Employers Need To Know About The ESSL Amendments?

NYC’s ESSL took effect April 1, 2014 and was amended in 2018 to expand sick leave obligations to also cover safe leave. Prior to the recent amendments, NYC employers with five or more employees who work more than 80 hours a year in NYC were required to provide paid safe/sick leave of up to 40 hours per year; employers with fewer than five employees were required to provide unpaid safe/sick leave in the same amount. 

The amendments to the ESSL change NYC employers’ obligations to provide safe/sick leave to employees. Certain amendments align the ESSL to obligations under the PSL:

The amended ESSL also includes a stopgap clause which provides that if the NYPSL or any regulation issued thereunder “sets forth a standard or requirement for minimum hour or use of safe/sick time that exceeds any provision in [the ESSL],” the higher standard will be incorporated into the ESSL by reference. Accordingly, if the NYPSL’s forthcoming regulations create a greater benefit or right to employees, such greater benefit will be incorporated into the NYPSL and enforceable by the City.  

Other amendments to the ESSL create new obligations for NYC employers:

What Do NYC Employers Need To Do?

If you have employees in NYC, you must take immediate action to comply with the newly amended ESSL. Specifically, you must revise your sick leave policy to comport with the new requirements imposed by the amendments, including the increased leave where applicable. Additionally, you must post a notice of employee rights, and provide existing employees with an updated notice, which will be available on the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection’s website once updated by the agency. You must also start providing safe/sick leave accrual, usage and balance on employee paystubs. If you require employees to submit documentation substantiating absences over three days, you must now reimburse your employees for any costs associated with obtaining the documentation. Finally, you must stay alert for any regulations or administrative guidance from the state on the NYPSL. Such guidance may further impact your safe/sick leave obligations. 

We will continue to monitor developments impacting New York employers, so make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ alert system to gather the most up-to-date information. If you have questions, please contact your Fisher Phillips attorney, or any attorney in our New York City office.


This Legal Alert provides an overview of a specific local law. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.

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