Employers with employees working in New York City only have a few days left to provide mandatory notices to employees informing them of their rights under the Earned Sick Leave Act (“Act”). Written notice must be provided to all current employees no later than May 1, 2014. (For more details on other requirements under the Act, see our prior advisories here and here.)

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs has developed and released a model notice to be sent to employees. Other than entering the start and end dates of the employer’s calendar year, the New York Department of Consumer Affairs requests that employers do not modify the model notice. In addition to releasing the model notice, the New York Department of Consumer Affairs published answers to Frequently Asked Questions to help employers know how to comply with the Act. Proposed rules implementing the Act have also been released.

It is important for employers to understand that a written copy of the model notice must be provided to all employees working in New York City. The notice must be delivered to employees in a way that reasonably ensures that employees actually receive the notice. This includes mailing the notice by regular mail or email, including the notice in distributed material such as a company newsletter, or including the notice with employee paychecks. However, merely posting the notice in a place frequented by employees, such as a break room, will not satisfy the distribution requirement. Failure to distribute the notice may result in a civil fine of up to $50 per employee.

Employers do not have to offer employees additional paid time-off (for sick leave) if existing personal time-off or vacation policies provide as much, or more, paid time-off than required under the Act, so New York City employers should act now to review their payroll and sick leave policies to ensure compliance with the Act. For example, employers should check to see if paid personal time-off under existing policies accrues at a rate of at least one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. If so, the employer can likely become compliant with the law by making minor changes to their existing policies, such as ensuring that employees are allowed to use personal time-off for to the reasons specified in the Act.

Another area that employers should check to ensure that existing personal time-off policies satisfy the requirements of the Act is the carry-over of unused time-off. Under the Act, employees must be allowed to carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time to the next calendar year. Additionally, employers should make sure that all part-time employees working more than 80 hours in a calendar year earn paid sick time-off.