Westchester County Enacts Safe Leave Time Law

Jun 11, 2019 | Domestic Workers' Rights, Labor Laws


Like it’s recently passed Earned Sick Leave Law, Westchester County’s Safe Leave Time Law applies to families who have hired household help. Here’s how household employers can comply with the new law.

Just weeks after its Earned Sick Leave Law (ESLL) took effect, Westchester County in New York enacted a Safe Leave Time Law (SLTL).

The new law, which will go into effect around October 30, 2019, requires employers to provide eligible employees with paid leave to be used for reasons relating to domestic violence or human trafficking.

Instead of including “safe time” as a reason to take paid sick leave, Westchester County decided to pass SLTL, which allows for 40 hours of paid leave above and beyond any sick leave provided by ESLL.

Families who have hired household help in Westchester County are included in the covered employers who must provide safe leave to full- and part-time employees who have worked for more than 90 days in a calendar year.

Safe leave can be used your employees who are victims of domestic violence or human trafficking in order to attend and/or testify in criminal and/or civil court proceedings related to domestic violence or human trafficking. It can also be used to move to a safe location.

Eligible employees are entitled to take up to 40 hours of paid leave under SLTL. The law doesn’t allow carryover of used time into the next year. Time can be used in “full days and/or increments.”

Unlike ESLL, the safe leave law appears to restrict the use of paid safe leave to an employee’s own instances of domestic violence or human trafficking and not to attend to such instances of family members.

You must provide paid safe leave upon your employee’s request. The law doesn’t contain an accrual provision. An employee must make a good faith attempt to provide you with advanced notice when requesting leave.

You can require “reasonable documentation” that paid safe leave was used for a permissible reason. Employees may provide any one of the following:

  • court appearance ticket or subpoena
  • copy of a police report
  • affidavit from an attorney involved in the court proceeding relating to the issue of domestic violence and/or human trafficking
  • affidavit from an authorized person from a reputable organization known to aid victims of domestic violence and/or human trafficking

As an employer, you can’t interfere with or restrain an employee’s paid safe leave rights or count it as an absence that could adversely affect their employment. You are also not allowed to retaliate or discriminate against an employee for using or asking to use paid safe leave.

SLTL does not contain recordkeeping provisions. However, you must provide employees with a copy of the law and written notice on how SLTL applies to the employee when they start working for you or within 90 days of the law’s effective date, whichever is later. You’ll also need to display a copy of the law and a poster in a location accessible to employees. A model safe leave notice and poster will likely be released in the coming months.

Read Westchester County’s Safe Leave Time Law (PDF).

GTM Payroll Services will continue to monitor any changes or updates to Westchester County’s Safe Leave Time Law. Subscribe to our Household Employer Blog Digest to get the latest news and best practices for families that hire household help delivered to your inbox every week.

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