New York is getting serious about employee rights when it comes to sick leave. On Sept. 30, 2020, the state’s new permanent sick leave law went into effect. It could be a game-changer when it comes to providing financial security for people who are either struggling with their own health issues or have family members who need their assistance. New York City has also implemented changes that go above and beyond what the state requires.
Employees start accruing their annual paid sick leave (PSL) — up to 56 hours per year, depending on the size of the employer — now, but they won’t be able to use it until Jan. 1, 2021. Here are some key provisions every New Yorker should know:
- You’re eligible for PSL even if you’re a part-time employee. In addition, your PSL starts to accrue immediately after you start working, which means an employer can’t skirt the rules by saying you’re in a trial work period or on new-hire probation. Even domestic workers (who have often been left out of these kinds of laws) are entitled to 40 hours of PSL.
- Your employer can’t keep your PSL a mystery. The total you’ve accrued and used must be printed right on your paystubs for you to see. This keeps employers from hiding the information from employees or making it difficult for someone to know what they have.
- You can use your PSL for mental and physical health issues alike. You’re also entitled to take PSL when you’re providing care for a family member with health issues. A diagnosis isn’t required to access your leave, since one of the things you can use it for is diagnostic visits and preventative care.
- PSL can also be used to handle problems associated with domestic violence. You can, for example, take PSL to attend a hearing in court, enroll your kids in a new school or relocate to a safer home.
- Your employer cannot make you jump through too many hoops to access your PSL. You can use it merely by letting your employer know verbally or in writing that you need the time.
If an employer tries to limit your access to paid sick leave or deprives you of it entirely, that’s stealing money out of your pocket. An experienced attorney can help you fight back when your employer’s actions are illegal.