Mandated Paid Sick Days?

The Earned Sick Leave Bill could affect one million NYC employees

Under current law, private employers in New York have no obligation to provide paid sick days to employees (unless contract or policy states otherwise).

However, on August 20, 2009, the New York City Council introduced legislation that would require private employers to give a minimum number of paid sick days to employees. The Earned Sick Leave Bill, which may go to hearing in early Fall of this year, could affect nearly one million New York City workers (if it is enacted).

The sick days contemplated by the bill would not have to be used exclusively for illness of the employee, but could also be used for other reasons. These other reasons would include the employee’s need to take care of certain ill family members (including domestic partners) and/or the employee’s need to care for their children whose schools are closed due to a public health emergency.

Under current law, private employers in New York have no obligation to provide paid sick days to employees

Employees would begin accruing paid sick time at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, for up to nine paid sick days per year (or five days, depending upon the size of the employer). Although the accrual would start upon employment, employees would not be able to use accrued paid sick time until they have worked for three months. Employees would not be entitled to receive compensation for accrued and unused paid sick leave upon termination of employment.

Under the new law, employees would have to give at least seven days advance notice of their need to use their paid sick days (if the need is foreseeable). Also, employers may be able to require employees who use the paid sick leave for more than three days to provide documentation to the employer.

Like many laws of its kind, this proposed legislation would require employers to advise their employees that there will be no retaliation for the employees’ use of the paid sick time. It would also require employers to give employees notice of their paid sick time rights.

ellen r. storch, esq.

Ellemn R. Storch is an employment attorney with the firm Kaufman Dolowich Voluck & Gonzo LLP. Contact her at