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NYC tries new form of paid leave

Restaurateurs and other employers in New York City are adjusting to a new law that mandates paid time off for employees who have been victims of certain crimes.

Called paid safe leave, the benefit is believed to be among the first of its kind in the nation. A more limited version has been in effect in Minneapolis since last summer.

The New York law applies to employees who have been the victims of actual or threatened domestic violence, unwanted sexual contact, stalking or human trafficking.

Workers can also opt for safe paid leave if a member of their family has been a victim or intended target of those criminal activities. The new law defines family members as anyone who is as close to the actual victims as a true relative might be.

The paid time off will provide individuals or their loved ones with an opportunity to ensure their safety and seek assistance from professionals without worrying about their livelihood.

“Survivors should never have to choose between their paycheck or the safety of themselves and children. Paid Safe Leave gives survivors in NYC the opportunity to take the time they need to stabilize their lives without worrying about losing their job,” said Chirlane McCray, co-chairman of the city’s Commission on Gender Equity and the Domestic Violence Task Force and the wife of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The law applies to any business with five or more employees who work at least 80 hours per year in New York City. Smaller operations must provide the leave time, but are not obliged to pay the employees for their time away from the job.

Employees accrue paid time off at the rate of one hour for every 30 they work, to a maximum of 40 hours per year. The time can be carried over if not used to the following year.

Workers are eligible to use their accrued paid leave time after 120 days on the job.

The law, which technically went into effect on May 7, obliges employers to inform employees of the new benefit by June 4 or upon being hired, whichever comes later.

A number of laws affecting restaurants first appeared in New York City before spreading nationwide. Those measures include menu labeling, smoking bans and prohibitions against the use of trans fats.

Minneapolis’ safe leave law does not extend to victims of human trafficking. Because of legal challenges by local businesses, it also applies solely to businesses that are headquartered within the city’s limits.

The adoption of paid safe leave In New York City comes as many areas in the country are considering requirements that virtually all employers provide paid sick leave, a benefit available to New York City workers since 2014.

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