On May 4, 2018, New York City's revised Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law took effect. All businesses with five or more employees who work at least 80 hours during the calendar year must provide this leave. In addition, employers must post a Notice of Employee Rights prepared by the City's Department of Consumer Affairs.
What are an Employee's Rights Under the Law?
An eligible worker earns one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. An employee can earn up to 40 hours of paid leave per calendar year. So for example, if you work a typical 40-hour workweek, you will accrue your maximum amount of leave for the year after working 1,200 hours, or 30 full workweeks.
While New York City has required employers to offer sick leave since 2014, the revised law also provides for “safe leave,” starting on May 5, 2018. Safe leave is designed to help victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. The law allows employees to use safe leave time to perform any or all of the following:
- Obtain services from a domestic violence shelter or rape crisis center;
- Participate in “safety planning,” including the temporary or permanent relocation of the employees to protect themselves or family members from sexual offenses or human trafficking;
- Meet with a civil attorney or social service provider;
- File a domestic violence complaint with law enforcement or meet with the District Attorney's office regarding a pending case;
- Enroll the employee's children in a new school; or
- Take any other action to “maintain, improve, or restore the physical, psychological, or economic health or safety” of the employee or member of the employee's family.
As an employee, you should notify your employer of your intention to take paid sick or safe leave at least seven days in advance. If there is a sudden, “unforeseeable” need for leave, you should still notify your employer as soon as may be practical. Your employer is allowed to ask for documentation of your need for leave if you miss more than three consecutive workdays. However, your employer may not ask for the details of any act of domestic or sexual violence, or human trafficking, that requires you to take safe leave.
Expanding the Definition of “Family”
The new law also expands the definition of “family member” for purposes of taking either sick or safe leave. In addition to traditional family relations–children, spouses, parents, siblings, et al.–you can now take leave if you need to assist “any individual whose close association…is the equivalent of family.”
The law also reaffirms traditional protections against retaliation. In other words, your employer cannot fire or discipline you or threaten to take such actions because you exercise your legal right to sick or safe leave. So, if your boss does give you trouble and you need advice from an experienced New York employment attorney on how to protect your rights, contact the Law Offices of White, Nisar & Hilferty, LLP, today.