Neighboring Paid Sick Leave Jurisdictions Have Very Different Enforcement Experiences

Connecticut and New York City are just about neighbors. NYC is a mere 35 miles from Connecticut’s southwestern corner.

Connecticut was the first state to enact a PSL law. Come January 1, 2017, the Connecticut Paid Sick Leave law will have been in effect for five years. The New York City Earned Sick Time (Paid Sick Leave) law has been in effect since April 2014, about 2 ½ years.  The two jurisdictions have had very different enforcement experiences.

In Connecticut, there have been relatively few complaints during the five years of the law, perhaps 50-75, according to Heidi Lane, Principal Attorney at the Connecticut Department of Labor. The Department has not assessed any penalties against employers.

The state DOL continues to receive dozens of calls weekly from employees and employers seeking information about the PSL law, according to Attorney Lane   Some of the more frequent inquiries concern whether a particular position is a “service worker” and entitled to paid sick leave under the law; whether an employee is a “per diem” employee exempt from paid sick leave under the law; or whether employees are entitled to 40 hours of sick leave in addition to their employer’s existing leave policies. Thus far, employers who were not aware of the law have voluntarily come into compliance, according to Attorney Lane. The agency continues to do seminars to educate the business community about the law.

The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), the agency responsible for implementing and enforcing the NYC PSL, in a report entitled NYC’s Paid Sick Leave Law: First Year Milestones, noted that in the first year of the PSL, it responded to “more than 8,340 emails and calls” regarding the law.  Employees were twice as likely as employers to call the DCA. The most common “topics of inquiry were “about how employees accrue sick leave hours and how much sick leave an employee has for use.”

The two-year New York City enforcement experience is dramatically different than that of Connecticut.  The DCA’s “PSL Facts” reports from April 1, 2014 tmoney-nychrough September 13, 2016 indicate that DCA has received 973 complaints. They have provided restitution of more than $2.5 million to about 14,500 employees. They have fined employees about $1.285 million. Comparing 2015 to 2016 through September 13, fines have increased nearly 160% and restitution has more than doubled. These percent increases represent quite a trend line and may be a harbinger of enforcement to come.