New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed into law an amendment to the NYC Earned Sick Time Act expanding the covered reasons for leave under the law, as well as broadening the definition of a covered family member for whom an employee may take leave to provide care. The amendments take effect on May 5, 2018 (180 days from the date of signing).

As we previously reported, the amendment renames the law the “NYC Earned Sick and Safe Time Act” and extends leave protections under the law to include situations where an employee or an employee’s covered family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual offenses, stalking or human trafficking as defined in the bill (“safe time”). Reasons for safe time may include:

  • to obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other shelter or services program;
  • 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 harm;
  • to meet with an 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, and/or discrimination in employment, housing or consumer credit;
  • to file a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement or meet with a district attorney’s office;
  • to enroll a child in a new school; or
  • 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 will be permitted to obtain “reasonable documentation” of the need for safe time following an absence of more than three consecutive work days (similar to the rule on obtaining documentation from a health care provider in the case of a medical-related absence). Reasonable documentation may include a signed note from a victim services organization, attorney, member of a clergy, or medical provider, a police or court record, or a notarized letter from the employee documenting the need for such leave. All such information obtained would need to be treated as confidential and an employer would not be permitted to require disclosure of specific details relating to the domestic violence, sexual offenses, stalking or human trafficking.

The amendment also expands the list of covered family members for whom an employee may use sick and/or safe time to provide care to include the following broad categories:

  • 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.

These new categories are in addition to the current list of covered family members under the law, which includes an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild or the child or parent of the employee’s spouse or domestic partner.

Employers should take steps to update their sick leave policies to reflect the changes to the law by no later than the May 5 effective date.