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Global Compliance Desk – Westchester County, N.Y.

Safe Time Leave for Victim of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking

Westchester County’s Safe Time Leave Law, has been passed to provide employees the right to use paid leave to attend or testify in criminal or civil court proceedings relating to domestic violence or human trafficking or to move to a safe location. Leave under the new ordinance will be in addition to paid time off already required to be provided to employees under the Westchester County paid sick leave law, which took effect on April 10, 2019.

Definition

  • The calendar year shall mean from January 1 to December 31 in any given year.
  • Domestic violence shall mean a pattern of violent or abusive behavior used by one person to gain or maintain control over another. Abusive behavior includes, but is not limited to, family offense matters.
  • Employee shall mean any person employed for hire by an employer in any employment within Westchester County for more than 90 days in a calendar year who performs work on a full-time or part-time basis, including work performed in the subsidized private sector and not-for-profit employment programs.
  • An employer shall mean any “employer” as defined in Section 190(3) of New York State Labor Law, except that an employer includes the Westchester County government for its employees that are not subject to a collective bargaining agreement. 
  • Year, other than “calendar year” means a regular and consecutive 12-month period as determined by the employer.

Covered Employees

The Safe Time Leave Law covers employees who work in Westchester County for a covered employer, on a full-time or part-time basis, for more than 90 days in a calendar year. Westchester County government must comply with the Safe Time Leave Law with respect to its employees that are not subject to a collective bargaining agreement and that meet the eligibility requirements in the law. Newly or recently hired employees become eligible to take safe time leave 90 days after the first date of employment.

Leave Entitlement 

Covered employees may take up to 40 hours of paid leave in any calendar year or “year” as determined by the employer. Safe time leave must be paid at the hourly rate the employee normally earns during hours worked.

Reasons to Take Leave

  • To attend or testify in criminal and/or civil court proceedings relating to domestic violence;
  • To attend or testify in criminal and/or civil court proceedings relating to human trafficking; and/or
  • To move to a safe location.

Required Documents

An employer may require the employee to provide reasonable documentation that the safe time leave has been used for a purpose covered by the Safe Time Leave Law. Such documentation may include a court appearance ticket or subpoena, a copy of a police report, an affidavit from an attorney involved in the proceeding, or an affidavit from an authorized person from a reputable organization known to provide assistance to victims of domestic violence or human trafficking. Any information about an employee or family member shall be treated as confidential.

Violation

If it is determined that a violation has occurred any of the following penalties can be imposed and any other penalties as may be provided:

  • Pay the employee 3 times the wages that should have been paid or 250 dollars, whichever is greater for each instance of safe time leave taken by an employee but unlawfully not compensated by the employer;
  • Require the employer to pay the employee 500 dollars for each instance of safe time leave requested by an employee but unlawfully denied by the employer and not taken by the employee or unlawfully conditioned;
  • Grant such additional relief, as it deems appropriate, including any actual damages suffered as the result of the employer’s violation of the Safe Time Leave Law, reasonable attorney’s fees, the cost of the administrative hearing, and other monetary or equitable relief as may be appropriate, without limitation, reinstatement to employment and back pay.

The Safe Time Leave Law goes into effect on October 30, 2019.

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