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NY Workers Get More Sick Leave, Higher Minimum Wages, In 2021

A picture of a $20 bill, a $10 bill and a $1 bill
Jim Levulis

In 2021, more New Yorkers will receive paid sick leave benefits and some minimum wage workers will see their salaries rise, under new laws that take effect.

The new law guarantees at least five days of sick leave. Large and medium businesses must pay their employees if they are out because of their own illness, or to care for a sick family member. The sick leave can also be used to deal with safety issues related to domestic violence or sexual assault.

In 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo authorized pandemic-related sick leave for those New Yorkers who had COVID-19 or were caring for a family member stricken by the virus.

According to the governor‘s office, as of January 1:

·  Businesses with 100 or more employees must provide up to seven days (56 hours) of paid sick leave per year  

·  Businesses with five to 99 employees must provide up to five days (40 hours) of paid sick leave per year 

·  Businesses with fewer than five employees, but a net income of more than $1 million must provide up to five days (40 hours) of paid sick leave per year

·  Smaller businesses with fewer than five employees and a net income of less than $1 million must provide up to five days (40 hours) of unpaid sick leave. However, those already providing paid sick leave can continue to do so. 

Paid family leave benefits also increase in the New Year. Workers can take up to 12 weeks off to care for a sick family member and receive two thirds of their regular pay.

The state’s minimum wage goes up in 2021, as the phase-in to a $15 minimum wage continues. New York City already reached that threshold in 2020. In Westchester and on Long Island, the minimum wage will rise to $14 an hour, and it will increase to $12.50 an hour for the rest of the state. 

Finally, thruway tolls will be higher for those without an electronic tag reader E-ZPass, they will increase by 30%.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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