Sick Leave

You have a disability, and your disability is covered by laws in New York State and New York City which prohibit disability discrimination in the workplace.

One form of reasonable accommodation that your New York employer should give you is sick leave. You may need a few hours off – for example, to see a doctor or because your condition is flaring up. You may need a few days off, to recover from the effects of your disability. You may even need months off. Each need for sick leave is unique, including the reasons for it and the amount and timing of the sick leave.

If your New York City employer has more than 50 employees within a 75 mile radius, than you might be entitled to sick leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, provided you have a “serious medical condition”, have worked more than half-time for the employer for more than one year and have not asked for more than a total of 12 weeks leave in a one year period. The Family Medical Leave Act is fairly technical, including when and how you have to notify your employer, and the confidential medical information the employer can request, but there is a bright line 12 week leave period to which you are entitled if you meet the technical requirements. The leave may be unpaid, if you have exhausted your paid days off, but you get the leave and can return to your same job, with the same salary, when you are able to return to work, as you long as you can return within the 12 week period.

If you are employed in New York State or New York City, you would also be entitled to sick leave as a reasonable accommodation, as long as your employer has more than four employees, under the New York City Human Rights Law and the New York State Human Rights Law, and as long as your employer has more than 20 employees, under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The definition of disability is much broader under the New York City Human Rights Law and the New York State Human Rights Law than it is under the American with Disability Act. Depending on the amount of time you need off, the nature of your job, and the size of your employer, you would be entitled to sick leave based on the whether it constitutes an “undue hardship” for your employer. Each disability case is unique and each need for leave is unique. It may be a few hours, or several months, depending on the situation. But if you genuinely need the time off to recover or to get medical treatment, your employer can’t knock you down when you are already down, and you should get your sick leave.

In New York City, we have the New York City Paid Sick Leave Law:

  • Most employees are entitled to sick leave, although for small employers the leave may be unpaid.
  • If there are five or more employees in your workplace, you are entitled to five paid sick leave days per year. 
  • If there are fewer than five employees, you get five unpaid days off.
  • If you do domestic work in a home for at least one year, you also get five paid days off.

Do you get the sick leave from “day one” of your employment?

No. You get one sick leave hour in your sick leave bank for each thirty hours worked. So with a 40 hour week, you will build up a little more than one hour per week.

Is it use it or lose yet?

Yes. The employer can allow you to carry 40 hours of unused sick leave into the next year, but they don’t have to. But you can carry over all your sick time if you began work with less than 120 days left in the year.

Do you have to be sick to use sick leave?

No. You can take sick leave for doctor or dentist appointments, or to care for a family member who is sick, or to care for your child if school is closed because of an emergency.

Can you take less than a day off for sick leave?

Yes. But your employer can set a minimum of four hours.

Do you have to give a reason for taking sick leave?

No. But the employer can require a doctor’s note for more than three consecutive days verifying that you needed sick leave. You have to give the note within 7 days of returning to work. No doctor’s note required for less than three consecutive days.

Can you be punished for asking for sick leave?

No. Your employer cannot retaliate against you.

Can you go to court for violations of the New York City Paid Sick Leave Law? 

No. You file complaints with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.

Contact us online or call us at (212) 949-1001 so that we can review if your New York City employer has subjected you to disability discrimination by not giving you a sick leave in violation of law in New York State or New York City.
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