Under New York City’s Earned Sick Time Act (aka Paid Sick Leave Law), certain employers must give their employees sick leave. In November 2017, New York City revised the law to expand its coverage. Employers must be aware of these changes as the provisions go into effect on May 5, 2018. New York City’s Earned Sick Time Act is broader than New York State’s recently enacted Paid Family Leave Law.
The law has not changed with respect to what businesses are covered. New York City employers with five or more employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick time to eligible employees in a calendar year. Employers with fewer than five employees must provide the equivalent of unpaid leave.
Family Members Covered
Currently, employees may use protected sick time to care for a spouse, domestic partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or the child or parent of the employee’s spouse or domestic partner. However, as of May 5th, the definition of a covered “family member” is broadened to include “any other individuals related by blood to an employee” or “any other individual whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”
The amended law expands the list of covered reasons for which paid sick leave can be used to encompass absences for “safe time.” The law is intended to benefit employees dealing with situations involving domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and trafficking. It enables employees to use paid leave to attend to immediate safety needs without fear of penalty or loss of income.
An employee is entitled to use safe time for absence from work due to any of the following reasons when the employee or a family member has been the victim of a family offense matter, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking:
(a) to obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other shelter or services program for relief from a family offense matter, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking;
(b) to participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocate, or take other actions to increase the safety of the employee or employee’s family members from future family offense matters, sexual offenses, stalking, or human trafficking;
(c) to meet with a civil attorney or other social service provider to obtain information and advice on, and prepare for or participate in any criminal or civil proceeding, including but not limited to, matters related to a family offense matter, sexual offense, stalking, human trafficking, custody, visitation, matrimonial issues, orders of protection, immigration, housing, discrimination in employment, housing or consumer credit;
(d) to file a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement;
(e) to meet with a district attorney’s office;
(f) to enroll children in a new school; or
(g) to take other actions necessary to maintain, improve, or restore the physical, psychological, or economic health or safety of the employee or the employee’s family member or to protect those who associate or work with the employee.
Employers can require employees to give reasonable notice of the absence if the need to use safe time is foreseeable, but not to exceed 7 days in advance. Where the absence is not foreseeable, the employer may require an employee to provide notice as soon as practicable.
If an employee is absent more than three consecutive work days for safe time, an employer may require reasonable documentation that the safe time was used for a covered purpose. This includes:
- documentation signed by an employee, agent, or volunteer of a victim services organization, an attorney, a member of the clergy, or a medical or other professional service provider from whom the employee or that employee’s family member has sought assistance;
- a police or court record; or
- a notarized letter from the employee explaining the need for leave
It should be noted that employers cannot require that such documentation specify the details of the family offense matter, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking.
Notice Requirements for Employers
Current employees must be informed about their right to safe time by June 4, 2018. Employers must also update the notice of rights provided to new employees to include notice of the employee’s right to safe time in addition to sick time.
If you are an employer who wants to be sure that you are complying with the new law, please contact us.
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