Effective December 22, 2014, New York employers must provide unpaid leave to employees who serve as volunteer firefighters or volunteer ambulance personnel whenever the governor declares a state of emergency. The new law will appear as Section 202-L of the New York Labor Law and the text of the law can be accessed here.

Under the law, in the event of any declared local or state emergency, employers must grant an employee’s request for leave for as long as the employee is “engaged in the actual performance of his or her duties” as an emergency responder. The employer must grant the request unless the leave would cause “an undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.”

Employees requesting emergency response leave must provide written documentation from the head of the employee’s fire department or volunteer ambulance service notifying the employer of the employee’s status as a volunteer emergency responder. After leave has been granted, employers may request a notarized statement from the head of the employee’s fire department or volunteer ambulance service certifying the period of time that the employee responded to the emergency.