Cities Continue Implementing or Adjusting New Laws on Sick Pay from Coast to Coast
Published by Eric A. Welter and Laura B. Thomasian on March 28, 2016
Employers are scrambling to stay on top of new sick leave laws – and updates to existing ones – across the nation. Here are details on some of the latest changes.
In 2016, cities throughout the United States are continuing to adopt new sick pay laws, and provide additional guidance regarding existing sick pay laws. Here is a quick summary of some of the more recent developments in several cities’ sick pay laws.
New York, New York
On January 14, 2016, New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs issued updates to the City’s FAQs on its sick pay law. The FAQs include a number of additions that are intended to clarify the law’s requirements on certain topics, including (but not limited to): joint-employer relationships and liability, front-loading requirements, carryover amounts for part-time employees, requirements regarding maintaining a written sick leave policy, and requirements for distribution of Notice of Employee Rights.
Pittsburgh’s paid sick pay law was struck down by a Pennsylvania court. The decision has been appealed, but Pittsburgh’s sick leave law will not be effective during the pendency of the appeal.
On December 17, 2015, Seattle amended its sick pay law. These amendments include (but are not limited to): providing for a private right of action for employees who have suffered an adverse action because of their good faith use or attempted use of paid sick leave, increasing civil penalties for employers who violate the law, including the notice and posting requirements, changing the minimum use increment from one hour to one-quarter of an hour, and changing the minimum time that an employer must maintain records documenting hours worked and sick time used be kept from two to three years.
Effective April 1, 2016, employers must give employees written notice of the employer’s policy and procedure for meeting the requirements of the law, including but not limited to: the employer’s choice of benefit year, tier size, accrual rate, use and carry-over of paid sick time, manner of providing employees with an updated amount of available paid sick and safe time hours each time wages are paid, and notification requirements for requesting leave.
On January 26, 2016, Spokane, Washington became the first city in 2016 to pass a new sick leave law. The new law will become effective on January 1, 2017, and will require eligible employers to provide certain employees with one hour of paid sick lease for every 30 hours worked.
Employees of businesses with up to nine employees may use up to 24 hours of leave per year. Employees of businesses employing 10 or more employees per year may use up to 40 hours of leave per year. Employees may carry over up to 24 hours of accrued, unused sick leave to the next year. The law does not apply to work‑study students, seasonal workers, temporary workers, independent contractors, domestic workers or employees engaged in certain construction work.
Paid sick leave may only be used for certain reasons specified in the new law, including the diagnosis, care, or treatment of the employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or health condition, or the mental or physical illness, injury or health condition of the employee’s family member, reasons related to domestic violence, any period when the employer’s business or the employee’s child’s school or place of care is closed by order of a public health official to limit exposure to an infectious agent, biological toxin, or hazardous material, or for bereavement leave in connection with a family member’s death. Employers may require documentation of the reason for the employee’s use of sick leave as set forth in the law.
Employers are required to post notice of employee rights under the law, and provide employees with information about their sick leave balance at least once per quarter. Employers must also maintain records of each employee’s earned sick time and use for at least three years.
State and local laws regarding sick pay laws are continuing to evolve and employers must make sure that they are aware of these developing laws in the areas where they do business. Additional information on sick pay laws can be found here: