New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio has signed legislation extending the effective period of certain legal protections designed to support the City’s businesses and their employees during the pandemic. The first bill extends and expands the City’s paid safe and sick leave law to reach more workers. The other two bills extend protections for commercial tenants and hotel workers.

Paid Safe and Sick Leave

Effective September 30, 2020, Intro. 2032-A amends the City’s administrative code in relation to requiring city employers to provide earned safe and sick time to employees. Specifically, it expands paid safe and sick leave to employees of small businesses with four or fewer employees and a net income of more than $1 million in the previous tax year. Employers meeting these criteria will be required to allow for accrual and use of up to 40 hours of paid safe/sick time per calendar year and carryover of up to 40 hours. Employers with 100 or more employees (regardless of employer income) will be required to allow for accrual and use of up to 56 hours per calendar year of paid safe/sick time and carryover of up to 56 hours. (Requirements for employers with five to 99 employees remain the same). Additionally, domestic workers will now accrue leave.

Employees will begin accruing newly provided sick/safe time on September 30, 2020, and will be able to use any newly provided sick/safe time starting January 1, 2021. Further, effective January 1, 2021, there is no waiting period for use of accrue sick/safe time.

The aforementioned measures will effectively align the City’s leave law with those in its State counterpart, the New York State Sick Leave Law (NYSSL). However, the City law also has provisions separate and distinct from the NYSSL, including the following:

  • Permitting New York City to bring suit in court against an employer for violating any provision of the City’s sick leave law;
  • Allowing New York City to open administrative investigations into potential violations of the City’s sick leave law;
  • Clarifying fines ranging from $500 to $2,500 for employer violations; and
  • Capping civil penalties at $15,000 in a civil action for a finding that an employer has engaged in a pattern or practice of violations.

Additional details pertaining to the new sick leave law are available in a blog by Jaspan Schlesinger Partner David Paseltiner, circulated earlier this week.

Personal Liability for Commercial Tenants
Intro. 2083-A extends the end date of Local Law 55, which temporarily prohibits the enforcement of a personal guaranty for certain NYC commercial leases or rental agreements involving COVID-19 impacted tenants. The extension was enacted at the urging of restaurant and other small business owners affected by COVID-19-related restrictions on their operations, which have hindered the ability to make adequate revenue.

Hotel Employee Retention

Intro 2049-A establishes protections for displaced hotel service workers in the event of a change in control of a hotel, such as a sale or bankruptcy. Once new ownership commences, the owner is required to provide employment to the existing hotel workers for at least 90 days. During this retention period, existing workers must be paid the same wage rate or higher. At the end of the 90-day period, the new employer performs an evaluation of the worker and, if the worker receives a satisfactory result, the new employer is required to offer continued employment.

In addition, the law requires hotels to notify guests of service disruptions that would substantially affect their stay. A hotel would be prohibited from charging a fee or penalty for cancellations made because of a service disruption.

The provisions relating to displaced workers took effect immediately. Provisions related to service disruptions take effect 120 days from enactment.

The announcement of the aforementioned measures coincided with demonstrations by City restaurant workers, who recently took to the streets to protest the continued ban on indoor dining. It remains unclear whether such measures will be further extended beyond these deadlines and into the new year. For further information or guidance on revising your policies and procedures in accordance with these new laws, please contact David Paseltiner at dpaseltiner@jaspanllp.com or Jessica Baquet at jbaquet@jaspanllp.com.