private sector employers

On January 9, 2019, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his plan to make New York City the first city in the country to mandate that private sector employers provide paid personal time (“PPT”) for their employees. Under the proposal, employers with five or more employees would be required to grant their employees 10 days of PPT to use for any purpose, including vacation, religious observance, bereavement, or simply to spend time with their families. It is unclear whether the proposed legislation would apply to only full-time workers, or whether, similar to the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (“ESSTA”), it would include many part-time employees as well. The Mayor said he would work with the New York City Council to develop the legislation, and several Council members have already voiced their support for the proposal.

According to the press release accompanying the mayor’s announcement of the PPT proposal, more than 500,000 employees in New York City currently are not provided paid personal time off, including 90,000 retail workers, 200,000 hotel and food service workers, and 180,000 workers in professional services. In his announcement and the press release, the mayor further asserted that: “Every other major nation recognizes the necessity of Paid Personal Time. We as a country must get there, and New York City will lead the way.”

Notably, the press release provided a few additional details of the anticipated legislation, including the following:

  • Similar to ESSTA, the law would contain a “carryover” provision under which employees could carry over up to 10 unused PPT days from one year to the next. And, like under ESSTA, employers would be able to cap an employee’s annual usage of PPT. With respect to PPT, the cap would be a maximum of 10 days per year;
  • Employees would be able to access their PPT after 120 days of employment; and
  • Employers could require employees to provide up to two weeks’ notice of their intent to use PPT. Moreover, an employer could deny such a request if granting it would leave the employer understaffed because one or more other employees will be on PPT leave at that time.

At this point, other details of what mandates a PPT law might contain, such as its applicability to part-time employees (as noted above), are speculative. For instance, while the Mayor’s announcement suggests that entitlement to PPT may be automatic, the press release implies that PPT would be accrued, similar to the ESSTA model. Also, it is possible that employers with fewer than five employers could incur some form of a time off obligation, such as having to grant unpaid personal time.

In light of recent trends to increase time off for employees, what is more certain is that some version of PPT is likely to garner sufficient support from the City Council and, probably sooner than later, become law. If so, most New York City employers will be obligated to afford their employees up to 15 paid days off per year – 10 under a PPT law and five pursuant to ESSTA. Also keep in mind the recently enacted New York City law that requires employers to grant most employees working in New York City a temporary schedule change – or unpaid leave – for up to two business days per year to attend to certain “personal events.” Though this law does not contain a paid time off requirement, it further expanded an employer’s obligations to provide employees with time off from work.

Thus, if past is prologue, employers should pay close attention to the mayor’s PPT plan.

We will keep you advised of any further developments on the PPT proposal.