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State Leave Legislation

Employers 11.30.2020 2 MIN READ


Many front-line workers who, by nature of their jobs, face an increased risk of COVID-19 exposure, do not having access to paid sick leave benefits. In response, states and municipalities have begun taking matters into their own hands by enacting new employee protections.

A number of locations across the country have already put new paid sick leave policies and sick leave policies related to COVID-19 into effect. Additional policies are set to begin in 2021. Employers conducting business in these locales will need to both be aware of these changes and update their leave policies to ensure compliance.

California and New York are among those that have expanded their paid sick leave benefits. A brief summary of the changes in both states are included below.


  • Effective September 19, 2020, private employers with 500 or more employees, who conduct any business in California, must provide supplemental paid sick leave if an employee is directly affected by COVID-19
  • Effective January, 1, 2021, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) will be expanded to employers in the state with at least five employees. Currently, only employers with 50 or more employees must comply
    • The CFRA is modeled after Federal FMLA, but has expanded the definition of “family member” beyond what is provided in FMLA

New York

  • Effective January 1, 2021, employers with 100 or more employees must provide their employees with at least 56 hours of paid sick leave annually
  • Accruals of paid sick leave began September 30, 2020, although leave cannot be taken until 2021
  • Employers are allowed to provide all 56 hours at the beginning of the year, or allow an accrual throughout the year of one hour earned per 30 hours worked

This trend extends beyond two of the most populous states—we have also seen updated sick leave legislation in smaller states, such as Maine, and among specific municipalities looking to establish their own requirements. New York City, Philadelphia and others across the country are currently looking to enact policies that would provide a greater level of benefit than any federal or state legislation.

It is imperative that employers who conduct business in any of these locales monitor the changing landscape and update their leave policies to ensure compliance. Resources are available for further information on state and local laws.



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