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What To Know About the NYC Earned Safe and Sick Time Act


In 2014, New York City enacted their Paid Sick Leave Law, which guaranteed most employees 40 hours of paid sick leave each year (if they work more than 80 hours a year).

In the time since the law went into effect, NYC lawmakers have been continuously looking at ways to amend and enhance this piece of legislation.

In November 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into a law a bill that would expand the Paid Sick Leave Law, which has been renamed the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act.

Under the revised law – which went into effect on May 5, 2018 – all employees in New York City who are eligible for paid sick time will be able to use it to take off for “safe” time.


The Earned Safe and Sick Time Act requires employers with 5 or more employees to provide eligible employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year. Employers with fewer than 5 employees must provide their workforce unpaid sick leave time.

Prior to the new amendments to the law, sick leave in New York City could be used for:

  • An employee’s illness (mental or physical), injury, health condition, medical diagnosis, treatment, preventative care, or elective surgery
  • A family member in need of care for an illness, injury, health condition, preventative care, or elective surgery
  • The closing of an employee’s workplace due to a public health emergency
  • Caring for an employee’s child whose school or childcare provider has been closed because of a public health emergency

The new Earned Safe and Sick Time Act has expanded the use of paid sick leave to include using these hours for safe time.

Employees can now use their paid sick time if themselves or family members have been the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking.

More specifically, the law allows employees to take time off to:

  • Seek and obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other services program
  • Participate in safety planning, relocate, enroll a child in a new school, or take other actions necessary to protect the employee’s safety or the safety of family members
  • Meet with an attorney or social service provider in relation to custody, visitation, matrimonial issues, orders of protection, immigration, housing, and discrimination (employment, housing, or consumer credit)
  • File a domestic incident report with law enforcement or meet with a district attorney’s office


Another significant update under the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act is an amendment to the definition of a “family member.” Under the old law, a covered family member was defined as a spouse, domestic partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or the child or parent of a spouse or domestic partner.

The revised law expands family members to include “any other individuals related by blood to an employee” or “any other individual whose close association with the employee is equivalent of a family relationship.”

This means that employees can use their paid sick time for both the original definition of a family member, as well as the now much more broader definition.


With the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act now in effect, employers in New York City must ensure that they allow their eligible employees to use their paid sick time in accordance with the law.

Failure to do so can lead to employee lawsuits and other compliance issues. For more information on the law, including who is considered an eligible employee, click here.

Employers in New York should routinely monitor the news for any further employment law updates that may impact them. For example, just last month both New York State and New York City passed anti-sexual harassment legislation that can have significant impacts for employers.

Don’t hesitate to contact HR and compliance experts should you have questions or concerns around current or future HR and employment legislation.

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