Beginning During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Aims to Raise Awareness About the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law While Learning About Community-Based Solutions to Domestic and Gender-Based Violence
NEW YORK, NY — NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV), launched a citywide learning tour today focusing on the City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law with an event in Flushing during City Hall in Your Borough: Queens.
Earlier this year, the City expanded the NYC Paid Sick Leave Law to include “safe leave.” Employees may now, in addition to sick or medical treatment purposes, use paid leave to take off from work if they or a family member have been the victim of any act or threat of domestic violence, unwanted sexual contact, stalking, or human trafficking to plan their next steps and focus on safety without fear of penalty. This important expansion of the law is a recognition of how domestic and gender-based violence can permeate all aspects of an individual’s life and can help an individual maintain employment as they seek safety and re-establish stability. The tour, which coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, will allow DCA’s Office of Labor Policy & Standards to learn firsthand about individual experiences with domestic and gender-based violence, while ensuring the community is aware of the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law and their rights under the law.
“New York City received nearly 109,000 reports of intimate partner related domestic incident reports last year,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “Sadly, we know this is just the tip of the iceberg as many incidents go unreported. The NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law helps survivors and their families so they have time to access resources they need. Taking off from work or losing their job to seek help because of domestic or gender-based violence is the last thing a survivor should have to worry about. We are proud to be partnering with ENDGBV and several community organizations to increase awareness about City resources, including the right to safe leave.”
Today’s event took place at the Korean American Family Services Center, a non-profit that supports and empowers adults, youth, and children, and is committed to preventing and ending domestic violence through counseling, education, and advocacy. The tour will continue into November with other organizations, including STEPS to End Family Violence, The GLBT Project, Translatina Network, and the Pride Center of Staten Island.
Under the new provisions of the law, workers can take time off to restore their physical, psychological, and economic health or that of a family member. For example, individuals can take time off to:
Visit DCA’s event calendar for future tour events, which will take place with various community-based organizations and service providers that work with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, with a focus on women’s and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) organizations. The tour will conclude with an event co-hosted by DCA and the Unity Project that will provide an opportunity for community members to engage with the City about the specifics of the law, in addition to broader workplace issues that are particularly acute for LGBTQ survivors.
“Paid Safe Leave has a tremendous impact on families being able to take important steps to secure their safety, and gives employers a policy to help keep their staff safe,” said Cecile Noel, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence. “It is critical for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and stalking to be able to address their immediate safety and service needs, and be able to maintain their employment and financial stability.”
“Good laws are where it starts, but we also need robust outreach to make sure those laws – and our enforcement strategies for them – deliver fair, safe workplaces,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, sponsor of New York City’s first Paid Sick Leave law. “I thank the Department of Consumer Affairs for its continuing efforts to make sure our City’s landmark Paid Safe and Sick Leave policies result in a better, fairer, healthier city for all.”
"The inclusion of survivors of domestic, gender-based, and intimate partner violence and human trafficking in the Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law acknowledges such brutality poses as great an obstacle to the livelihoods of working families as any medical illness,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor. “Efforts such as this tour to heighten the public’s awareness of its protections are essential to helping these brave workers heal from their trauma, and I thank Commissioner Salas and her colleagues for their dedication to publicizing the law as well as information about the range of supports the City offers.”
“At the Korean American Family Service Center, we work firsthand with survivors of domestic and gender-based violence and understand the trauma they experience,” said Executive Director Bomsinae Kim, Korean American Family Service Center. “Fear of losing their job or not being able to find support should never be an obstacle survivors needs to overcome. For these reasons, the expansion of the Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law is so important, and we commend the Department of Consumer Affairs’ learning tour to increase awareness of the law and work directly with community organizations such as ours.”
The definition of family under the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave law was also expanded earlier this year to include any individual whose association with the employee is the equivalent of family. This expanded definition recognizes that the individuals who employees might need to care for when those individuals are especially vulnerable—due to circumstances surrounding illness or safety—do not necessarily fall into pre-determined categories and are likely different for different employees. It is especially relevant for survivors who experienced violence within their biological family, and those who are isolated or separated from biological family for cultural, religious, socio-economic, or geographic reasons, such as those in the LGBTQ and/or immigrant communities.
Since the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law took effect in April 2014, DCA has attended more than 1,600 events to help workers and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under the law. Additionally, the agency has processed more than 1,700 cases, closing almost 1,500 of them. DCA has also secured more than $8.5 million dollars in restitution and fines for more than 26,000 employees. For more information on the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, visit nyc.gov/dca or call 311.
The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCA licenses more than 81,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCA protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCA empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCA also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCA and its work, call 311 or visit DCA at nyc.gov/dca or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.