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New Westchester County Sick Leave Law Takes Effect April 10, 2019
Westchester County, New York, just became the latest jurisdiction to enact an Earned Sick Leave Law (“Law”). The Law requires that covered employees of an employer with five or more employees earn, at a minimum, up to 40 hours of paid sick time in a year. Employers with fewer than five employees must provide up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave. The Law becomes effective on April 10, 2019.
The Law covers employees who work within Westchester County for more than 80 hours in a calendar year. The law excludes certain other employees, such as those participating in work-study programs. In addition, the Law becomes effective for employees currently covered by a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) upon the CBA’s expiration on or after April 10, 2019; however, the Law excludes workers covered by a CBA if the agreement explicitly waives the Law’s sick time provisions and provides for a “comparable benefit” (e.g., paid vacation time, personal time, or sick time).
Accrual of Leave
Under the law, employees are entitled to 1 hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year (unless the employer sets a higher limit), which must be paid if they work for employers with at least five employees. Leave accrues beginning on the later of 90 days after the effective date of the law or the beginning of employment. Employers can also front-load 40 hours of combined sick and personal time at the beginning of each year to allow employees to use leave for a sick time with no advance notice and with no restrictions on use other than as contained in the law. Employers must compensate employees for earned sick time at the same hourly rate that they normally earn.
Reasons for Leave
An employee may use earned sick time for:
- The employee’s or a family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, or for preventive medical care;
- The care of the employee or a family member with a communicable disease where a public health official has determined that the person’s presence in the community presents a danger to others; and
- The closure of the employee’s place of business, or school or care center attended by the employee’s child, due to a public health emergency.
Notice, Posting, and Recordkeeping Requirements
Employers must provide employees with a copy of the Law, along with “written notice of how the law applies to that employee,” at the commencement of employment or within 90 days of the effective date of the Law, whichever is later. Additionally, employers must display a copy of the Law and a poster in English, Spanish, and any other language deemed appropriate by the County of Westchester, in a conspicuous location accessible to the employees. Employers are also required to retain records for three years documenting:
- The number of hours worked by each employee,
- The amount of earned sick time accrued, and
- The amount of earned sick time taken by each employee.
The failure to retain such records will create a rebuttable presumption that the employer has violated the Law.