Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

Update: final rules clarify New York City employers’ sick leave obligations

By Kenneth W Taber and Teresa T Lewi

In response to widespread employer concerns over ambiguities in New York City’s Earned Sick Time Act (ESTA), the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) published its final rules regarding ESTA on 30 July 2014. Employers must now ensure that their sick leave policies comply with ESTA, as amended on 20 March 2014, and the final rules, which provide additional guidance on the requirements of employers.

As discussed in Pillsbury client alerts on 6 January and 24 March 2014, the ESTA applies to almost all private employers with at least one employee working in the City. As of 30 July, covered employees who have worked for their employer since 1 April 2014 — ESTA’s effective date — became entitled to use their accrued sick leave. Under ESTA, private employers with five or more employees working in the City are required to afford up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year to covered employees. Private employers with fewer than five employees working in the City are still required to provide up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave to covered employees. As affirmed by both ESTA and the final rules, employers are free to adopt more generous leave policies than mandated under ESTA.

While the final rules, which adopted many of the provisions in the preliminary version of the rules introduced on 28 March, clarify specific parts of ESTA, they also leave employers less discretion over the way certain requirements must be implemented…

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