New York employers now have access to guidance regarding the implementation and scope of two laws, the “New York City Safe and Sick Leave Law” and the “New York State Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law.” The following summarizes the key points offered by the guidance for each of these laws.
New York City Safe and Sick Leave Law
New York City’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (“DCWP”) issued guidance for the New York City Safe and Sick Leave Law in the form of FAQs. (For background on this topic, see our previous alert.) This guidance emphasizes that all “[p]rivate, nonprofit, and household employers that employ workers in NYC must provide safe and sick leave.” Moreover, of importance during the COVID-19 pandemic, the DCWP also provides the following guidance pertaining to the Safe and Sick Leave Law for telecommuting workers: “Employees who telecommute are covered by the Law for the hours when they are physically working in New York City (on-site or by telecommuting), even if the employer is physically located outside New York City. Employees are not covered for the hours when they are not physically working in New York City, even if the employer is physically located in New York City.”
The DCWP makes clear that employer action is required: “An employer must provide the employee with the Notice of Employee Rights in English and in the language that the employer customarily uses to communicate with that employee. If available on the DCWP website, the employer must also provide the Notice in the employee’s primary language and the language spoken by at least 5% of employees.” New York City employers can access the Safe and Sick Leave notice in English at the following link.
Furthermore, the DCWP FAQ provides exemplar scenarios for various employment situations and describes examples of covered safe leave.
New York State Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law
The New York Department of Labor (“NY DOL”) issued guidance for the New York State Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law (the “State law”). The NY DOL’s guidance on the State law provides that “New York City may continue to enforce the provisions of the New York City Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law to the extent that such provisions meet or exceed the end standard or requirements for minimum hour and use set forth in the New York State Paid Sick Leave Law, as determined by the Commissioner of Labor.”
Similar to the aforementioned New York City law, the State law likewise covers “[e]mployees who telecommute… for the hours when they are physically working in New York State, even if the employer is physically located outside New York State.” Furthermore, the NY DOL’s guidance also makes clear that “[a]n employer cannot require an employee to work from home or telecommute instead of taking sick leave. But an employer can offer the employee the options of working from home or telecommuting. If employees voluntarily agree to work from home or telecommute, employees will retain the paid or unpaid sick leave that they have accrued.”
Additionally, the NY DOL guidance provides information on accruing time, permitted uses of such time, pay rates, notice of time usage, and employer policies regarding the voluntary donation of time under the State law.
Employers conducting business in New York State or New York City must take note of the recent changes in the sick/safe leave laws and ensure compliance. Our labor and employment attorneys can provide additional information and compliance assistance.