Clarification of New York sick leave law

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2022 | Wages & Hours

The New York Department of Labor adopted new sick leave rules on Dec. 22, 2021. The new sick leave rules clarify the law adopted on Sept. 30, 2020, to expand on documentation, determine an employer’s size and find an employee’s accrual of leave.


Employers can’t require medical verification from employees for sick leave that lasts three or fewer consecutive days or shifts. Employers may ask for documentation from employees for sick leave over three consecutive days or shifts. With the new wage and hour ruling, employers have limits on what documentation they may request. A document from a licensed medical provider needs to support the employee’s sick leave request. Employers can ask why an employee needs sick leave, but they can’t ask for confidential information such as prognosis or treatment. Employers can’t have employees pay for the documentation themselves.

Determining employer size

The amount of sick leave an employer must offer depends on the size of the employer’s workforce. Wage and hour laws put workforces into three categories. Employers with fewer than five employees need to offer 40 hours of sick leave per year. Businesses that make under $1 million can give unpaid sick leave. Employers with 5-99 employees need to offer 40 hours of paid sick leave. Any employer with a workforce of 100 or more should offer 56 hours of paid sick leave instead of 40.

Determining accrual of leave

The new wage and hour rules allow employees to accrue one hour of sick leave every 30 work hours. If an employee works less than 30 hours, the employer can round the accrual of sick leave to the nearest one-tenth, five minutes or 15 minutes. Employers shouldn’t round down to stop providing the earned accrual of leave. Employers must allow employees to carry over sick leave to the following year; however, employers can ask employees to use sick leave before the year ends.

The more employees an employer has, the more sick leave they must offer. All employers should check that their current sick leave and safe time policies comply with the new rules. Employers could train supervisors, human resources professionals and managers with new policies.