Q&A Regarding the new NYC Earned Sick Time Act

Earlier this year, New York city officials the Earned Sick Time Act.  This act protects you from losing your job if you have to take time off from work to recover from a physical/mental illness or an injury, care for a sick family member, or seek medical treatment for yourself or a family member.

However, even though the law became effective on April 1, 2014, there are still many employees in New York City who are unsure of how the law pertains to them.  As a result, the organizations Community Service Society, A Better Balance, and Make the Road created a leaflet to help educate workers on their rights.  Below are some of the questions they answer:

1. What does the Earned Sick Time Act do?
The New York City Earned Sick Time Act allows workers to take up to 40 hours of sick time in a year, either for themselves or to care for certain family members.  Workers cannot be fired or punished for taking this time.  If your workplace has 5 or more workers, your employer must pay you for the time off. 

2. Am I covered?
The law covers most people working in New York City.  If you work within the boundaries of New York City (in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx or Staten Island) for more than 80 hours in a year, you are covered, whether you are a full-time, part-time, temporary, or
undocumented worker.
However, the law does not cover:

  • Federal, state, and municipal workers
  • Students in federal work-study programs and recipients of certain fellowships/scholarships
  • Independent contractors (Note that employers sometimes incorrectly label workers as independent contractors; check with an attorney if you have questions)
  • Participants in a Work Experience Program (WEP)
  • Certain occupational, speech, and physical therapists

3. Which of my family members are covered by the law?
The Earned Sick Time Act allows workers to use sick time to care for themselves or a child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent of a spouse or domestic partner, grandchild, grandparent, or sibling.
4. How much paid sick time am I entitled to earn and use under this law?
If you work for a business with 5 or more employees, you are entitled to earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time a year. You will earn 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.

If you work for a business with fewer than 5 employees, you are entitled to earn and use up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time a year.

  • If you work for a chain business or franchise with fewer than 5 employees at your location, you may still be entitled to paid sick time depending on how the chain or franchise is owned or operated. 

If you are a domestic worker, you are entitled to 2 days of paid sick time after one year of employment, in addition to the paid days of rest provided by New York State Labor Law.  All employees are protected against being fired and other forms of retaliation for taking their earned sick time. Retaliation includes threats, discipline, demotion, reduction in hours, termination, etc.
5. When can I start using my sick time?
You must wait until July 30, 2014 or 120 days after the date when you begin your job to start using your sick time.

Learn More

1. Click here to read the complete handout: Know Your Rights: The New York City Earned Sick Act.