Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Is Coming, Is Your Organization Ready?

Employers need to review current policies and practices


Paid and Unpaid Sick Leave in 2021

On April 3, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to add a permanent comprehensive paid sick leave policy for New York workers. This was part of the New York State budget but has been overlooked by many New Yorkers in the flood of more immediate COVID-19 related leave requirements coming from both the state and federal government.

While the law doesn’t begin to take effect until the end of September, employers will want to review the requirements of the law now, in order to update their policies and procedures before implementation. HR One will provide updates as the state releases additional guidance.

Sick Leave Requirements


Required Sick Leave

4 or fewer employees AND net income of less than $1 million in the previous tax year

Up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave each calendar year

4 or fewer employees AND net income over $1 million in the previous tax year

Up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each calendar year

Between 5 and 99 employees

Up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each calendar year

100 or more employees

Up to 56 hours of paid sick leave each calendar year


Employees will begin to accrue the sick leave on September 30, 2020 and may be eligible to use the leave beginning January 1, 2021. Employees must accrue the sick leave at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, though employers may implement a more generous accrual rate, including front-loading the accrual.

The paid leave must be at the employee’s regular rate.

Permitted Uses of Sick Leave

For purposes of the law, sick leave is defined broadly to include not only traditional sick leave usage, but also for reasons more commonly known as safe leave.  Thus, sick leave may be taken for:

  • An employee’s or employee’s family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, regardless of whether such illness, injury, or health condition has been diagnosed or requires medical care at the time that the employee requests the sick leave;
  • The employee’s or employee’s family member’s diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition, or for preventive care; or
  • An absence from work due to any of the following reasons when the employee or employee’s family member has been the victim of domestic violence, a family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking:
    • to obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other services program;
    • to participate in safety planning, to relocate temporarily or permanently, or to take other actions to increase the safety of the employee or employee’s family members;
    • to meet with an attorney or other social services provider to obtain information and advice on, and prepare for or participate in, any criminal or civil proceeding;
    • to file a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement;
    • to meet with a district attorney’s office;
    • to enroll children in a new school; or
    • to take any other actions necessary to ensure the health or safety of the employee or the employee’s family member or to protect those who associate or work with the employee.

Employers Already Offering Sick Leave Benefits

Many employers already offer paid sick leave benefits to their employees, though they should review their practices and policy documents to make sure the accruals and permissible uses comply with the new requirement. HR One can review your employee handbook policy for compliance with the requirements, and offer updated policy language if needed. For HR One payroll clients we can also assist you in setting up the accruals within Payentry.

There remain unanswered questions, including how current PTO policies will apply to the requirements, and HR One will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available from the Department of Labor.