State Budget Includes New Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

While the state’s new paid sick leave program related to COVID-19 illness is the focus for most employers at the moment, the Governor and State Legislature included a sweeping new permanent paid sick leave program as part of the recently enacted state budget for FY2021.

As employers continue to reel from a series of evolving COVID-19 pandemic regulations, the state’s new permanent paid sick program will begin this fall.  This is what you need to know:

  • Employers with 4 or fewer employees must provide 40 hours of unpaid sick leave
  • If the business had a net income greater than $1 million in the previous tax year, they shall provide 40 hours of paid time off
  • Employers with 5-99 employees must provide 40 hours of paid sick leave
  • Employers with 100 or more employees must provide 56 hours of paid sick leave

The sick leave must accrue at a rate of no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked.  Leave is allowed for  a mental or physical illness of an employee or employee’s family member.  Leave also covers diagnosis, care or treatment of mental or physical illness for an employee or employee’s family member.  Leave is also allowable due to domestic violence, rape, stalking or human trafficking.

An employer may set a reasonable increment of use for time off not to exceed four hours.  Unused sick time will carry over to the following year, but the annual hourly caps would remain in place. Employers are not required to pay out their employees for unused time but must preserve six years worth of accurate payroll records showing the amount of sick leave provided to each employee.

Employers with pre-established sick leave policies that meet or exceed the requirements in this legislation will not be required to provide additional leave.

While many employers already offer paid time off, Albany’s newest mandate follows a familiar pattern: increased costs, less flexibility, and more bureaucratic red tape.  These added concerns and costs will be another hurdle for the state’s employers as they try to recover from the devastating economic impact of COVID-19.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is committed to providing employers with the latest information and resources to help deal with COVID-19 and the impact on our community, state and nation.  Visit our resource page for the most up-to-date information.

Maddilyn Genovese Headshot

About Maddilyn Genovese

Manager, Government Affairs & Economic Development