United States: This Is No April Fool’s Day Joke: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 Is The Deadline For Employers To Comply With The New York City Earned Sick Time Act; Meanwhile, The Department Of Consumer Affairs Releases Form Notice And Additional Guidance

Last Updated: March 26 2014
Article by Michael S. Arnold

Have you taken the steps necessary to comply with NYC's paid sick leave law yet? If not, what are you waiting for? The Act goes into effect on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. We've covered the law's many requirements in various prior posts. For today, let's talk a little bit about what we've been hearing on the street as the deadline approaches.

1. Is this for real? The economy is bad enough and it will only make things worse right?

Response: it's unclear. Some argue that this law will inflict additional pain on an already hurting economy, including on the City's many small businesses, which will now face additional payroll expenses and burdensome recordkeeping requirements. They also argue that it subjects employers to "gotcha" fines and incentivizes them to pay employees off-the-books or fire them. Others say that these concerns are largely overblown, and besides, the benefits outweigh the costs, as employees will become more financially sound and the law will stem the spread of illness in the workplace and in schools. They also argue that the law will result in increased not decreased productivity and that similar laws have been largely successful in other cities like San Francisco. In other words, the jury is still out and we will have to analyze the law's impact over time.

2. We already provide paid sick leave to our employees, so we don't need to worry about this new law right?

Response: [note, before responding, take a deep breath and cue up a polite smile:] I think it's great that you provide paid sick leave to your employees. In fact, many NYC employers already do. But we can't pick which laws we follow and which laws we don't follow. The Earned Sick Time Act has very specific requirements addressing sick leave eligibility, accrual, forfeiture, and request processing, among other requirements. So your generosity, while commendable, may not be good enough; your generosity must be administered in a statutorily-acceptable way. In short: have your counsel review your existing policy, and if necessary bring it into compliance with the law.

3. Is the notice requirement the same thing as the Wage Theft Act's notice requirement?

Response: No, but I can see why you'd think that. The Wage Theft Act is a State law. This is a law applicable to City employers only. But the City notice requirement steals from the Wage Theft Act (pun intended). Like the Wage Theft Act, the Earned Sick Time Act requires (i) employers to provide employees with a notice of their rights, (ii) the notice must be written in English and, in some cases, also in the employee's primary language; and (iii) the City to create template notices for employers to download. But that is where the similarities end. The City law does not have an annual notice distribution requirement like the Wage Theft Act; instead, you must distribute it to your existing employees by May 1, 2014, and to all post-April 1 new hires immediately. Further, the City law limits notice distribution failures to a $50 per employee fine, while the Wage Theft Act imposes a $50 fine per week, up to a maximum $2,500 fine per employee – a sizeable difference.

4. The City Department of Consumer Affairs Still Hasn't Issued a Form Notice Right?

Response: I'll take "Things That Are No Longer True" for $200 Alex. The DCA has finally gotten around to publishing a form notice, which you can download here. Only English versions of the notice are currently available, but the DCA expects to release additional notices translated into other languages soon.

The DCA has also published two fact sheets entitled "Paid Sick Leave: What Employers Need to Know," and "Paid Sick Leave: What Employees Need to Know" that provide certain useful information to employers and employees. But the real draw here is the Frequently Asked Questions document that DCA has also made available. This document provides extensive guidance to employers trying to understand their obligations under the law. It's not perfect, but at least it's a start.

5. Is this law going to result in a new wave of costly lawsuits?

Response: A small bit of good news here. Employees cannot sue you to enforce their rights under this law. They can only file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs. The DCA also has the power to initiate investigations on its own.

6. I am a City employer, but I have employees working elsewhere – do they get paid sick leave too?

Response: Possibly. The law covers an employee as long as he or she works at least 80 hours in the City. But even if the employee meets this threshold and accrues leave, he or she can only use that leave when the employee is working in the City. If they telecommute outside the City, they do not accrue and cannot utilize leave. And let's flip it around a bit: if the employee telecommutes into the City, but the employer is located outside the City, the employee will still be covered by the law.

7. I'm convinced that some of my employees regularly lie about being sick to get out of work. What can I do to stop this?

Response: I'm with you on that one. The law limits your ability to obtain a doctor's note unless the employee is absent for three or more days, and that doctor's note cannot specify the medical reason for the sick leave (unless another law permits this disclosure). However, you can institute a policy requiring the employee to notify you at least 7 days in advance of a foreseeable absence, and you can deny sick leave to an employee who does not provide adequate notice under this policy. For unforeseeable uses of leave, you can require the employee to provide you with a written verification that they used sick leave for legitimate purposes, and nothing prevents you from taking the appropriate disciplinary action should you discover that your employee lied about the reason he or she did not show up for work that day. Of course, as most employers know, this is easier said than done for various reasons that I won't go into. Perhaps this is why some employers are no longer providing (or are at least reconsidering providing) separate leaves for sick days and vacation days (and other types of leave), preferring instead to convert them into a one size fits all Paid Time Off or PTO policy. If you go that route however, you still have to make sure that your PTO policy complies with the law's minimal requirements (e.g. it provides for the accrual of at leaset 40 hours of PTO).

8. Please help me figure out this carryover requirement?

Response: Sure. It's a bit confusing. In a nutshell, the law bans "use it or lose it" policies, but not really. The law mandates the carryover of accrued but unused sick leave from year to year. At the same time however, employers can limit this rule's impact in two ways. First, they can cap the total amount of sick leave at 40 hours per year despite the existence of the carried over amounts. Or second, employers can require the employee to forfeit his or her accrued but unused leave, but if they do that, they must pay the employee for that leave and they must provide at least 40 hours of new leave to the employee from day 1 of the new calendar year. In either case, you should probably revisit your existing policy on this issue.

9. I usually require my employees to use leave in chunks of time. Can I still do that?

While the law provides for an hourly accrual (1 hour for every 30 hours worked), this does not prevent you from setting minimum leave usage increments. For example, you can require employees to utilize up to 4 hours of sick leave at once. Setting higher minimum increments may help ease some of the administrative burden and lower the number of employee absences associated with this law.

10. Seriously, is this law an April Fool's Day joke?

Response: Sorry, it's not. But here are my two favorite April Fool's Day jokes: Taco Bell's announcement that it was buying and renaming the Liberty Bell as the Taco Liberty Bell, and Burger King's announcement that it was creating a left-handed Whopper. We look forward to seeing this year's best April Fool's Day joke. And in the meantime, we'll keep you posted on any further developments about paid sick leave law.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Michael S. Arnold
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions