New York City Expands Paid Sick Leave Law

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

November 17, 2017

New York City has expanded its paid sick leave law so that employees may take "safe time" when they or a family member are the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking. The Earned Sick and Safe Time Act does not change the total amount of leave an employee may take - no less than 40 hours per year - but expands the reasons for which they may use the leave.

"No New Yorker should ever have to decide between their safety and a paycheck," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "This new law will make it easier for survivors to get the care they need without jeopardizing their livelihood."

Effective May 5, 2018, New York City employees will be able to request paid sick or safe time leave for a number of new reasons, including:

  • To obtain services from a domestic violence shelter or rape crisis center;
  • To temporarily or permanently relocate to increase their safety;
  • To file a domestic incident report or complaint with law enforcement;
  • To meet with a district attorney's office;
  • To meet with a civil attorney or other social service provider; or
  • To enroll children in a new school.

For absences of more than three consecutive work days, an employer may require reasonable documentation that safe time was used for an authorized reason. Reasonable documentation may include:

  • Documentation signed by a professional service provider from whom the employee or family member sought assistance (such as a medical provider, clergy member or attorney);
  • A police or court record; or
  • A notarized letter from the employee explaining the need for such time.

However, an employer may not compel an employee to disclose details relating to his or her status, or a family member's status, as a victim of sexual offenses, stalking or human trafficking as a precondition of providing safe time.

Under the New York City law, covered family members for both safe and sick time purposes include any blood relative of the employee and any other individual whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

A growing number of states and municipalities require, or soon will require, private employers to provide some form of paid sick leave to eligible employees.