New York City May Soon Guarantee Paid Leave for Domestic Violence Victims

Image via NYC Mayor’s Office

A new bill passed in New York City would, if signed into law by
the mayor, require employers to grant paid time off to workers
who say they’ve been victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse or
“family offense matters.”

The bill, which on Tuesday
passed the City Council unanimously, seeks to amend the city
code in order to extend paid time off to include what’s been
labeled “safe time,” allowing victims of abuse to access rape
crisis centers, domestic violence shelters or any other service
they need following an assault without worrying whether their
jobs are at stake.

“Often times, women would miss appointments with either a DA,
or miss appointments at the police precinct, or, unfortunately
in cases, had to go and serve orders of protection, they had to
go themselves and weren’t able to do that because they weren’t
able to take the time off work,” Councilwoman Julissa
Ferreras-Copeland, one of the bill’s main sponsors, said during
a press conference.

If signed, New York will join cities like Chicago,
Los Angeles and Pittsburgh that guarantee paid leave to
employees needing to deal with incidents of domestic and sexual

Though New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, has not said whether
he intends to sign the legislation into law, he did say during
the bill’s introduction last year that he supports it.

“No woman should have to decide between her safety and her
paycheck,” he said during a press
conference at the time. “We need to make sure that work will be
protected, not interrupted; that pay will be protected, not
interrupted while a woman pursues justice―while she takes care
of things she needs to ensure her safety.”

Julie Owens, a domestic violence survivor who consults for
federal agencies about how best to work with victims, told Broadly that such laws
as the one on de Blasio’s desk right now “can literally be

“Over my nearly 30 years of work with victims, many have told
me that they were fired or forced from jobs for ‘going to
court too much’ or for staying home when they were covered
with bruises, or for literally being trapped in the house by
their abuser who refused to allow them to leave for work
during or after a violent incident,” Owens says. “Others were
so afraid of being fired due to rigid workplace policies that
they just did not pursue justice or safety when they needed
to, and so their abuse continued much longer. Still others
were required to appear in court time and time again when
their abusers were fighting them in divorce proceedings,
refusing to split the marital assets equitably and/or trying
to get custody of the children.”

The legislation also overlaps with the city’s
paid sick leave rules, which mandate that employees working
more than 80 hours a year accrue at least 40 hours of paid sick

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