Update: Westchester County Paid Safe Leave Law Goes Into Effect

November 5, 2019Alerts

As detailed in a prior Alert, the Westchester County Board of Legislators passed a stand-alone safe leave law in May 2019 that provides employees who are victims of domestic violence or human trafficking with 40 hours of paid safe leave time annually, which is separate from and in addition to the 40 hours of paid sick leave provided under the Westchester County Earned Sick Leave Law (see our Alert on the County’s Earned Sick Leave Law here).

With the law now in effect (as of October 30, 2019), the County has published lists of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for both employers and employees, as well as a model notice of employee rights in both English and Spanish.

The FAQs are a good resource for employers and provide some clarity on key aspects of the law, including:

Rate of Pay
Safe time leave must be paid at the hourly rate the employee normally earns during hours worked. Tipped employees for whom the employer takes a tip credit toward their minimum wage obligations should be paid at the full-minimum wage.

Amount of Leave
Covered employees (i.e., employees who work in Westchester County for more than 90 days for a covered employer) may take up to 40 hours of paid leave in any calendar year or “year” as determined by the employer. The safe time leave provided for under the law is in addition to sick leave provided for under the Earned Sick Leave Law.

Accrual
There is no accrual of safe time leave. Covered employees are entitled to take up to 40 hours of paid leave annually. Employees who have already worked for an employer for 90 days by October 30, 2019, are covered employees who are eligible to take safe time leave as of October 30, 2019. Newly or recently hired employees become eligible to take safe time leave 90 days after the first date of employment.

Notice to Employees
Covered employers must give covered employees a copy of the Safe Time Leave Law and written notice of their rights to safe time leave. Employees who are employed by a covered employer on or before January 28, 2020 must receive written notice no later than January 28, 2020, while employees who are first employed after this date must receive written notice on the first day of employment. Covered employers must also display a copy of the Safe Time Leave Law and a poster in English and Spanish (links to these posters are included above) in a conspicuous location accessible to employees. An employer’s failure to comply with these notice and posting requirements can result in fines of up to $500 for each separate offense.

Employee Coverage and Notice to Employer of Intent to Take Leave
An employer may not require, as a condition of an employee’s use of safe time leave, that the employee find another employee to work during the time of the employee’s absence. However, if the need to take safe time leave is foreseeable, a covered employee must make a good faith effort to provide notice to the employer in advance of the employee’s intention to use safe time leave.

For more information about this Alert, please contact Glenn S. Grindlinger at 212.905.2305 or [email protected], Matthew C. Berger at 646.601.7658 or [email protected], or any other member of Fox Rothschild LLP’s Labor & Employment Department. Visit us on the web at www.foxrothschild.com.