Last month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill into law amending and expanding the NYC Earned Sick Time Act (ESTA). The law previously allowed full-time and part-time NYC employees who work more than 80 hours in a year to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to be used for:

  • an employee’s own mental or physical illness, injury or health condition
  • an employee’s need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition
  • care of a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of an illness, injury, or health condition, or who needs preventative medical care
  • an employee’s need to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed due to a public health emergency.

Under the current version of the law, family members were defined as children (biological, adopted, or foster children, legal wards, children of an employee standing in loco parentis), grandchildren, spouses, domestic partners, parents, grandparents, children or parents of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner, or siblings (including half, adopted, or step siblings).

How the Amendment Expands the Old Law:

The amendment, which will go into effect on May 5, 2018, renames the law to the “NYC Earned Sick and Safe Time Act” and provides employees with additional situations in which they can use accrued paid leave. It expands the law to allow employees to use accrued paid leave where an employee or an employee’s family member has been the victim of a family offense matter, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking.  For example, an employee may use accrued paid leave 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;
  • 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;
  • file a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement;
  • meet with a district attorney’s office; and/or
  • enroll children in a new school.

Additionally, the amendment expands the definition of family member 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.

What Employers Need to Know

Employers will be permitted to require employees to provide reasonable documentation of an employee’s request to use accrued paid time following an employee’s absence of more than three consecutive work days. This documentation can take many forms, such as a signed note from a victim’s organization, attorney, member of a clergy, or medical provider, a police or court record, or a notarized letter from an employee documenting the need for leave.  Employees supporting documentation must remain confidential, and employers are not permitted to seek additional information (beyond the reasonable documentation described above) relating to the domestic violence, sexual offenses, stalking or human trafficking.

Employers must notify their workforce of the new law by May 5, 2018.