What Can Your Boss Ask You When You Call in Sick?
In New York, employees have the right to take a sick day when they need to. In fact, state labor laws require most employers to offer a certain amount of sick leave to their employers. However, your employer may ask you questions about your sick day—and in some cases, these questions can violate your rights.
What Are Your Rights Regarding Sick Days?
If you work in the private sector, at a private or charter school, or for a non-profit corporation, you have the right to take sick leave when you need to. Under New York law, employers must provide the following amount of sick leave to each employee.
- Employers with four or fewer employees and a net income of $1 million or less must provide up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per calendar year.
- Employers with four or fewer employees and a net income of more than $1 million must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.
- Employers with five to 99 employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.
- Employers with 100 or more employees must provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year.
When you do decide to use your sick leave, you must provide a verbal or written request to your employer. You can use sick leave for the following reasons in New York.
- To treat a mental or physical illness or injury, regardless of the time of diagnosis or the need for immediate medical care.
- For the diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness or injury.
- To receive a medical diagnosis or preventative care.
- To take care of a family member under the above circumstances.
Employer Rights for Employee Sick Days
Employers also hold certain rights when it comes to sick days. For example, employers can limit the leave an employee can take to the maximum required amount. A large employer can cap its sick leave policy at 56 hours, while a midsize company could cap sick leave at 40 hours.
If the company needs to impose restrictions on its sick leave policies, it will need to ensure that New York law permits it. The employer will then need to notify the employees about the limitations, either in writing or by posting a notice in the workplace. For example, the employer will need to report any information that restricts how employees can use sick leave, such as required increments.
Employers cannot retaliate against an employee for taking sick leave. Employers must also keep payroll records for at least six years that detail the amount of sick leave each employee accrues and uses.
What to Do If You Need to Take a Sick Day
If you need to take a sick day in New York, it is important to notify your employer as quickly as possible. You can choose to disclose brief details about your condition if you wish. However, if your condition is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you can choose not to respond to your employer’s questions.
You can simply say that you have an ADA-protected disability and do not want to discuss your condition. If your employer continues to ask invasive questions or harass you about your condition, you could act against him or her.
Speak to a New York Employment Lawyer
New York employees have the right to take sick days, and they have the right to keep the details of their condition private. If your employer has violated your sick leave rights, speak to an employment attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will evaluate your case and help hold your employer accountable.