Beginning on May 5, 2018, all employees eligible for paid sick time in New York City will also be able to use such paid time off for "safe" time under the renamed Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (the Act).

Employees do not earn more paid time off. The Act simply expands the situations for which employees can use their earned time.

Safe time may now be used to address the health, safety and financial repercussions that employees or their family members may face due to family offenses, sexual offenses, stalking or human trafficking.

More specifically, safe time may be used to obtain relief services from a shelter or crisis center, to participate in safety planning, to relocate or to take actions to increase the employee's or employee's family member's safety, to meet with an attorney or social service provider regarding legal proceedings, to file a complaint or police report, to enroll children in a new school, or to otherwise attend to the physical, psychological or economic wellness of the person(s) affected.

Going forward, for purposes of both sick and safe time, a "family member" now includes any blood relations or persons considered family by close association (including ex-spouses or ex-domestic partners, persons who have a child in common regardless of their relationship status or living arrangements, and persons in an intimate relationship regardless of their living arrangements).

In reality, New York City is steering businesses towards more generic "paid time off" policies, where employees are allotted a certain number of paid days off that can be used for any purpose they choose. From an administration standpoint this actually makes things easier for employers, and we have been guiding our clients in this direction for several years.

As a special bonus, we are using this alert to bring you a new feature called "Did You Know?" Our idea is to highlight what might be little-known aspect of the laws with which we deal, to educate our clients and keep them current. Without further ado:

Did you know that employers can have a policy permitting employees to voluntarily donate unused sick leave to other employees?

This is permitted according to the FAQ section pertaining to the Earned Sick (and Safe) Time Act. Presumably, donations of "safe time" will also be permitted. It stands to reason that a policy permitting the donation of any PTO would also be permitted. Such a policy does not cost employers any more, and gives employees the ability to help a coworker in need.