December 11, 2013

More Local Governments Enact Leave Laws

For several years now, local government jurisdictions such as cities and municipalities, have been enacting ordinances or laws that require private employers doing business in that particular jurisdiction to provide certain leave benefits to their employees.  Recently, New York City and the City of Portland, Oregon have recently passed paid sick leave ordinances similar to those enacted in Jersey City, City of Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Seattle, among others. 

New York City

  • Earned Sick Time.  Effective April 1, 2014, the New York City Earned Sick Time Act requires employers employing 20 or more employees to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours an employee works. Employers employing 15 or more employees or who employ a domestic worker are required to provide paid sick time to their employees beginning October 1, 2015; until then all employers employing 15 to 19 employees are required to provide unpaid sick leave.  Employees eligible for the earned sick time include those working a minimum of 80 hours per calendar year within the city of New York on a full or part-time basis.  An employee may use this sick time to care for his/her own mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; or to attend to the medical care of a family member.
  • Reasonable Accommodations Relating to Pregnancy, Childbirth or Related Medical Conditions.  The New York City Human Rights Law has been expanded to provide job protections for employees who need reasonable accommodations relating to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.  This law impacts all businesses in New York City with four or more workers, counting both employees and independent contractors. Employers must provide reasonable work accommodations to pregnant women and those who suffer medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. Such a reasonable accommodation may include bathroom breaks, leave for a period of disability arising from childbirth, breaks to facilitate increased water intake, periodic rest for those who stand for long periods of time, and assistance with manual labor.  The law takes effect on January 30, 2014. 

Portland, Oregon: Protected Sick Time Ordinance

Beginning January 1, 2014, employers employing 6 or more employees are required to provide at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours of work performed by the employee within the City of Portland.  Those employers with 5 or fewer employees must provide a minimum of one hour of unpaid sick time for every 30 hours of work performed by the employee within the City.   

All employees who work for the employer are counted for the purposes of determining the number of employees an employer has, including full-time employees, temporary employees, part-time employees, and employees who work outside the City of Portland or outside the State of Oregon. Employees who perform work in the City or telecommute to the City for work are covered by the ordinance regardless of where their employer is located. Employees, who perform work outside the City, even if the employer is based in the City, are not covered by the ordinance for hours worked outside the City.

The employee may use the sick leave in such instances as to attend to his/her own medical care or to the medical care of a family member.  It can also be used following instances of domestic violence or sexual assault; as well as following closure of school or day care as a result of public health emergencies. 

Employers with sick leave or paid time off policies in place providing comparable benefits can be deemed to be compliant with the Ordinance.


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