You could have a legal right to take time off work for particular reasons under federal and New York laws, in addition to the leave permitted under your employer’s discretionary vacation time, sick leave, personal days, or paid time off (PTO) policies. Let’s say that under New York law, you may be entitled to paid sick leave or family leave if you are taking care of a sick family member or recovering from delivery. The state also grants other leave privileges, such as the right to adoption leave, military family leaves, and others. When an employee is unable to work due to a handicapping condition, they may also be eligible for temporary disability benefits.
In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will outline all you need to know about your right to time off from work in New York state.
Can an employer deny time off in NY?
In New York, employers have the discretion to grant or deny time off to employees, subject to certain restrictions under state and federal law. Some of these restrictions include:
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Under the FMLA, eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for certain family and medical reasons, including the birth or adoption of a child, the care of a family member with a serious health condition, or the employee’s own serious health condition. Employers are required to grant leave to eligible employees under the FMLA.
- New York State Paid Family Leave (PFL): New York State offers PFL, which provides eligible employees with job-protected, paid time off to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or assist with family obligations when a covered military member is deployed abroad. Employers are required to grant leave under PFL.
- New York City Earned Sick Time Act (EST): The New York City EST requires employers with five or more employees to provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers must grant leave under the EST, subject to certain restrictions.
- New York State Human Rights Law: The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of certain protected characteristics, including race, religion, and gender. Employers cannot deny time off that is related to an employee’s exercise of their religious beliefs, unless it would create an undue hardship for the employer.
In addition to these restrictions, employers may have obligations under collective bargaining agreements, company policies, or other contracts to grant time off to employees.
It is important to note that time off for vacation or personal reasons is not protected by law and is at the discretion of the employer. Employers can deny time off for these reasons, as long as the denial does not discriminate against an employee based on a protected characteristic or violate the terms of a contract or company policy.
New York’s Paid Sick Leave Law
New York State’s Paid Sick Leave Law, which went into effect on September 30, 2021, requires employers to provide eligible employees with paid sick leave. Under the law, eligible employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 56 hours per calendar year.
Employees can use paid sick leave for their own illness, injury, or health condition, or to care for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition. Family members under the law include a child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild, and grandparent.
Employers with fewer than 100 employees must allow employees to use 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year, while employers with 100 or more employees must allow employees to use 56 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year.
The law also requires employers to provide eligible employees with written notice of their rights under the law, including the amount of paid sick leave they have accrued and the terms of its use. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who use or request paid sick leave.
It is important to note that the Paid Sick Leave Law does not preempt or limit any other state or federal law providing for greater paid leave rights or benefits.
New York Laws on Unpaid Family and Medical Leave
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles qualified workers to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year to care for a seriously ill family member (spouse, parent, or child), recover from serious health issues, establish a bond with a new child, or deal with some practical issues related to a family member’s military service. Additionally, the FMLA mandates that employers provide workers with up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave in order to care for a family member who contracted or worsened a serious sickness or injury while serving in the military. If they are the next of kin to an injured service member, employees may take time off to care for a larger group of family members, such as siblings, grandparents, and cousins (for the purposes of this military family leave provision only).
Employers in all states with at least 50 employees are covered by the FMLA. Only those who have been employed by the company for at least a year and put in 1,250 hours in the 12 months before to taking leave are eligible. (On our page about Taking Family and Medical Leave, you can learn a lot more about your rights under the FMLA.)
There are rules that provide for family and medical leave for employees in some states. This legislation occasionally duplicates the FMLA’s provisions without adding any new rights. However, state law frequently applies to a greater range of firms, has more lenient employee eligibility standards, or covers a larger range of family members. In addition to the previously mentioned paid sick leave policy, New York also permits employees to take unpaid leave for adoption and visiting a family member serving in the armed forces:
Employees who adopt a kid who is preschool age or younger, or a child with a disability up to the age of 18, are entitled to the same parental leave that their employers offer for the birth of a biological child. This law does not mandate that companies offer parental leave; rather, it merely mandates that, if they do, they offer equal leave to biological and adoptive parents.
Military family leave
An employee may take up to ten days off work while their spouse is on military leave if their employer has 20 or more staff members. Employees are qualified if they put in at least 20 hours a week on average and are married to a person serving in the National Guard, Reserves, or Armed Forces who is deployed to a combat theater or combat zone of operations at the time of a military conflict.
New York Laws on Paid Family and Medical Leave
New York offers paid family leave benefits and payments under temporary disability insurance (TDI).
New York Temporary Disability Benefits
A state-run temporary disability insurance scheme exists in New York. When temporarily unable to work owing to a handicap (including pregnancy), eligible employees may receive up to 50% of their regular pay.
Employees participating in this program are not entitled to unrestricted time off. While employees are on leave, it only covers a portion of their wages.
New York Paid Family Leave
New York Paid Family Leave (NYPFL) is a state-mandated insurance program that provides employees in New York with partially paid time off for certain family and medical reasons. The program is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities while ensuring that they are not forced to choose between the two. The program provides eligible employees with job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks in a 52-week period.
NYPFL covers a variety of family and medical reasons, including bonding with a new child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or assisting loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service. To be eligible for NYPFL, employees must have worked for their employer for at least 26 consecutive weeks and must have been employed by their employer for at least 20 hours per week. The program is funded through employee payroll deductions, and the weekly benefit amount is determined based on the employee’s average weekly wage, capped at a maximum amount set by the state.
One of the key benefits of NYPFL is that it provides employees with job-protected leave. This means that employees are entitled to return to their job at the end of their leave period and cannot be terminated because they took time off. This helps ensure that employees are able to take time off without having to worry about losing their job. Additionally, NYPFL provides employees with partial pay during their leave period. This helps ease the financial burden associated with taking time off work for family and medical reasons.
Another important benefit of NYPFL is that it applies to all employers, regardless of their size. This means that both large and small employers are required to provide eligible employees with the opportunity to take NYPFL. Furthermore, NYPFL is available to all employees who are eligible, regardless of their gender, race, or other protected characteristics.
While NYPFL is a valuable resource for employees, it is important to note that there are some limitations. For example, NYPFL does not provide full payment for the entire leave period. Employees will receive a portion of their average weekly wage, capped at a maximum amount set by the state. Additionally, NYPFL does not provide paid leave for all medical or family reasons. For example, employees who need time off for their own medical condition or for a qualifying exigency related to a family member’s active military service are not eligible for NYPFL.
New York Laws on Military Leave
In New York, employees who are members of the military are entitled to certain leave rights under both state and federal law.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal law that provides protection for members of the military who are called to active duty. USERRA requires that covered employers provide military leave to employees who are called to perform military service. In addition, USERRA requires employers to reemploy returning service members in the same or a similar position with the same pay, benefits, and seniority as they had prior to their military service.
Under New York state law, employees who are members of the military are entitled to take military leave for the purpose of participating in military training or responding to a state or national emergency. The length of military leave is determined by the employer, but it must be long enough to allow the employee to fulfill their military obligation.
Employers are also required to continue group health insurance coverage for employees who are on military leave. In addition, employees who are on military leave are entitled to receive their regular pay during their leave, up to a maximum of 20 working days per calendar year.
Employees who are called to active military duty for a period of more than 20 working days may choose to use accrued vacation time, personal leave, or any other available leave time to supplement their pay during their military leave.
Employees who are called to active military duty are also protected under the New York State Labor Law, which prohibits discrimination against employees who are members of the military. This means that an employer cannot discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate against an employee because of their military service.
When service member returns from military duty, they are entitled to be reinstated to their previous position or a similar position with the same pay, benefits, and seniority as they had prior to their military service. In addition, employees who are returning from military duty are entitled to a leave of absence for the purpose of rehabilitation or recuperation from any injury or illness incurred in the line of duty.
New York Laws on Time Off for Voting
In New York, employees are entitled to time off from work for the purpose of voting in an election. The amount of time off that is granted varies based on the location of the employee’s polling place and the employee’s work schedule.
Under New York law, employees who are registered voters are entitled to take up to two hours off from work to vote, provided that they give their employer reasonable notice of their intention to do so. If the employee’s polling place is located outside of their normal work hours, the employee may take additional time off as necessary to vote.
If an employee’s normal work hours coincide with the hours that the polls are open, they are entitled to time off to vote only if they do not have sufficient time to vote before or after their work hours. In this case, the employee must be granted a reasonable amount of time off to vote, not to exceed four hours.
Employers are not required to pay employees for the time taken off to vote, but they cannot reduce the employee’s pay or deduct time from their leave balances for the time taken off to vote.
In addition to the time off for voting, employees are also entitled to time off to register to vote or to assist a family member who is voting. However, this time off must be taken on the employee’s own time and without pay.
If an employee is unable to vote on Election Day due to their work schedule, they are entitled to apply for an absentee ballot. The employer must provide the employee with a reasonable amount of time to apply for and cast an absentee ballot.
Employers are prohibited from interfering with an employee’s right to vote or from retaliating against an employee for exercising their right to vote. This includes prohibiting employees from discussing political matters or displaying political materials while at work.
New York Laws on Time Off for Jury Duty
Employees who are summoned for jury duty are entitled to time off from work to fulfill their civic obligation. The amount of time off that is granted varies based on the length of the trial and the employee’s work schedule.
Under New York law, employees who are summoned for jury duty must be granted a leave of absence from work. Employers are not required to pay employees for the time taken off for jury duty, but they cannot reduce the employee’s pay or deduct time from their leave balances for the time taken off for jury duty.
Employers are also prohibited from firing, threatening, or otherwise discriminating against an employee for taking time off for jury duty. In addition, employees who are on jury duty are entitled to return to their job with the same pay, benefits, and seniority as they had prior to their leave.
Employees who are summoned for jury duty are entitled to take time off from work to attend jury selection and to serve as a juror during the trial. The length of time off will vary based on the length of the trial, but it may be several days or several weeks, depending on the circumstances.
If an employee’s employer requires them to report to work while they are on jury duty, the employee must be granted time off from work to attend jury selection and to serve as a juror during the trial. If an employee’s employer does not require them to report to work while they are on jury duty, the employee may take the time off from work without pay.