New York City employers must provide eligible employees with paid “safe time” and sick time under the newly enacted “Earned Safe and Sick Time Act”

November 08, 2017

Employment Law Alert

Author(s): Tara E. Daub, Helena Habib

New York City recently expanded the Earned Sick Time Act to allow employees to take time off from work to participate in safety planning, and to meet with police, attorneys and social service agencies following a “family offense” or matter of “human trafficking.” This alert discusses the details of this legislation and its impact on employers doing business in New York City.


Since 2014, the Earned Sick Time Act has required certain New York City employers to provide a minimum amount of paid sick time to eligible employees. On November 6, 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an amendment to that law (Introduction 1313-A), which adds “safe time” as another category of legally protected time off. The amendment is set to go into effect on May 5, 2018, 180 days from when Mayor de Blasio signed it into law.

Earned Safe and Sick Time Act

This amended law, entitled Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA), requires New York City employers with five or more employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid safe/sick leave per year to any employee who works more than 80 hours in a year. Notably, this legislation does not add to the amount of leave an employee can accrue under the original Earned Sick Time Act, but instead adds reasons for using the leave. More specifically, under ESSTA, an employee can use “safe time” to meet with law enforcement, obtain mental health and medical services, seek legal advice and engage in safety planning, in the event the employee or a covered “family member” is a victim of a “family offense” or “human trafficking.”

Unlike similar laws in other jurisdictions, ESSTA’s coverage is uniquely broad. For example, covered “family members” include the employee’s child, grandchild, spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandparent, sibling, the child or parent of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner; “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.” Similarly, “family offenses” consist of an array of situations including disorderly conduct, harassment, sexual misconduct, forcible touching, sexual abuse, stalking, criminal mischief, menacing, reckless endangerment, strangulation, criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, assault, identity theft and grand larceny.

ESSTA’s broad coverage does not stop there—it goes beyond any other jurisdiction by including “human trafficking” in the list of events that can trigger an employee’s ability to use “safe time.”

Impact on employers

Given the increased attention that the City is directing to sick—and now safe—leave, we anticipate increased enforcement efforts on this front. Therefore, New York City employers with five or more employees should review and revise their policies, practices and employee trainings to ensure compliance with the ESSTA.

The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of the firm. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel. If you have any questions or require any further information regarding these or other related matters, please contact your regular Nixon Peabody LLP representative. This material may be considered advertising under certain rules of professional conduct.

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