On April 10, 2019, Westchester County, New York’s Earned Sick Leave Law (the “Law”), applicable to all Westchester County employers, went into effect. The Law provides that, beginning July 10, 2019, all employees must earn at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. An employee is any person that works at least 80 hours in a calendar year within Westchester County, except for those working pursuant to a work-study program or in a work experience program established by a social services district and those compensated by a qualified scholarship.
Employers with five or more employees in Westchester County must provide their employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in a year (calendar year, or otherwise as determined by the employer [e.g., anniversary date]). Paid sick time must be the same hourly rate the employee normally earns, provided that it is no less than the applicable current hourly wage, which at the time of this publication is $12.00 in Westchester County. Employers with four or fewer employees in Westchester County must provide up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave in a year. These are minimum requirements and an employer may offer additional sick leave to its employees. Additionally, employers may require new employees wait 90 days prior to using their accrued sick time.
An employer’s number of employees includes all full-time, part-time, and temporary workers; however, when the number of employees that work per week fluctuates the number of employees shall be the average number of employees who worked per week during the preceding calendar year.
To simplify the work involved in calculating the accrual of earned sick time, an employer may instead couple personal and sick time together at the beginning of the year so long as the combined time equals at least 40 hours.
Notably, employers are not required to “cash out” employees for their earned but unused paid sick leave upon an employee’s termination of employment. Additionally, while an employee may roll over his unused sick leave to the subsequent year, the Law does not require that employers provide more than 40 hours in a year.
By July 10, 2019 (or upon hiring, if an employee’s commencement date is after July 10, 2019) every employer must provide its Westchester County employees a copy of the Law and written notice of how the Law applies to that employee. Additionally, every employer must display a copy of the Law and poster in a conspicuous location (e.g., employee break room or kitchen area) in English, Spanish, and any other language deemed appropriate by Westchester County (note: at the time of this publication only an English poster has been provided by Westchester County).
Written Policy and Use
The Law sets forth specific procedures related to using sick time leave, requirements that the employer maintain certain records for at least three years, the reasons for which earned sick time may be used, and prohibited retaliatory acts.
An employer’s failure to act in compliance with the Law will result in the employer being issued a summons and compensating the employee whose rights was violated. Accordingly, we recommend that all employers with employees in Westchester County adopt a written sick leave policy in conformance with the Law to ensure you remain compliant.
The above contains only some aspects of the Law. If you have any questions on how the Law affects you or your business, would like to implement a sick leave policy, or require assistance in preparing the employee notice please contact David Paseltiner (516-393-8223) or Jessica Baquet (516-393-8292).