Benefits and Leave

The law does not require most employers to provide any paid days off. However, your employer can be required to keep any promise it made to provide vacations, holidays or sick days.  Most employees are entitled to paid family leave, described more fully under Question 5 and 6, below.

The law does not require most employers to grant sick days, even unpaid sick days. There are three important exceptions:

  • If you work in New York City for more than 80 hours per year, you can earn up to 40 hours of sick leave a year to care for yourself or a family member. For more information about this law, visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/workers/workersrights/paid-sick-leave-law-for-workers.page.
  • Under federal law, many workers are entitled to request up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year because of their or a family member’s sickness. The time does not have to be used all at once; some of it can be used for a short-term illness. For more information about such leave, visit http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/benefits-leave/fmla.htm or contact the U.S. Department of Labor at (866) 487-9242.
  • Most New York State employers are required to provide “disability benefits,” which means that employees disabled by illness or injury for more than seven days become entitled to half their wages, up to $170 per week, for up to 26 weeks. For more information about disability benefits, contact the New York State Workers Compensation Board at (877) 632-4996 or visit http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/offthejob/db-overview.jsp.

The law does not currently require most employers to grant health insurance. However, if the employer promises such benefits, it must live up to its promise. The federal Affordable Care Act does not mandate that employers provide health insurance but, rather, for employers of more than 50 employees, imposes a tax penalty if they do not provide health insurance.  Thus, employer compliance with the employer mandate is enforced by the IRS, not by labor or healthcare agencies.  If your employer does not provide health insurance, you can get more information about signing up for health insurance by visiting https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/

The law does not currently require most employers to grant pensions or retirement benefits.  If you have questions about your pension plan or benefits, contact the U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration at (866) 444-EBSA or visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa.

As of January 1, 2018, most employees who work in New York State for private employers are eligible to take Paid Family Leave, which can be taken to bond with a newly born, adopted, or fostered child, among other reasons. For more information about Paid Family leave, please visit https://www.ny.gov/new-york-state-paid-family-leave/paid-family-leave-information-employees. Additionally, under federal law, many workers (both men and women) are entitled to request up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for a newborn child. For more information about such leave, contact the U.S. Department of Labor at (866) 487-9242 or http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/benefits-leave/fmla.htm. Note that if your leave qualifies for both state and federal leave, it should run concurrently (i.e. you are not entitled to take state and federal leave at separate times in one year).

A woman may also be entitled to disability benefits for the period of time that her doctor certifies that she is unable to work after the birth of a child, up to 26 weeks.  For more information about disability benefits, contact the New York State Workers Compensation Board at (877) 632-4996 or visit http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/offthejob/db-overview.jsp.

In addition to the birth of a child, NY’s Paid Family Leave Law covers time off taken to care for a close relative with a serious health condition or assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service. For more information about Paid Family leave, please visit https://www.ny.gov/new-york-state-paid-family-leave/paid-family-leave-information-employees.

Federal law protects most workers’ right to join a union by prohibiting employers from retaliating if they do, and by requiring the employer to bargain if workers choose union representation. For more information, visit http://www.nlrb.gov or contact the National Labor Relations Board at 866-667-6572.