Amendment to NYC’s Earned Sick Time Act

Effective May 5, 2018, employers with employees working in New York City must comply with an amendment to the city’s Earned Sick Time Act, which provides such employees with up to 40 hours of sick leave per year. Under the newly named “Earned Safe and Sick Time Act,” employers need not provide employees with additional time off from work, but must permit employees to use the leave they accrue under the Act for additional reasons, collectively referred to as “safe time.”

When an employee or the employee’s family member has been the victim of a family offense matter, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking, the employee may use safe time in connection with such a situation in order to, among other things, obtain services from a shelter or services program, participate in safety planning, relocate, meet with an attorney or other social service provider, file a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement, or meet with a district attorney’s office.

The revised law also greatly expands the definition of “family member.” Previously, the definition of family member specified certain relatives by blood or marriage. Now the definition has been expanded to include “any other individual related by blood to the employee” and “any other individual whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.” This broader definition applies to both sick time and safe time under the Act.

Other aspects of the law that previously applied to sick time now apply to safe time. For example, whether an employee uses sick or safe time, the employee must provide reasonable notice of the need to use leave when such need is foreseeable. Similarly, employers may require reasonable documentation that the use of leave – whether for sick or safe time – was authorized by the Act when an employee is absent for more than three consecutive workdays.

Employers should review their sick leave policies and plan to implement the law’s new requirements. Additionally, employers must distribute a revised Notice of Employee Rights to new employees as of May 5, 2018, and to current employees prior to June 4, 2018. A notice template is expected to become available on the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs website prior to May 5, 2018.

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