New York City institutes paid ‘safe leave’ for domestic violence

On Tuesday, a new bill was signed into law in New York City to offer financial support and workplace protection to domestic violence survivors.

For survivors of domestic violence, maintaining your economic independence and financial security can be key to escaping your abuser and protecting your family. Dealing with domestic violence may mean being late to work, moving with no notice, or missing work to go to court to get a protection order — along with other time-consuming tasks that put victims at risk of losing money and their jobs. People who experience intimate partner violence lose an average of 7.2 days of work-related productivity per year. Research from the Joint Center for Poverty Research at Northwestern University found that up to half of domestic violence survivors will lose their jobs.

The new law is intended to address these problems.

What the law does

The new law, Intro. 1313-A, doesn’t increase the minimum of 40 hours of paid leave that workers are entitled to in New York City, but it expands it to cover what’s called “safe leave,” for domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and trafficking survivors.

“This new law will make it easier for survivors to get the care they need without jeopardizing their livelihood,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

More states are using paid safe leave to protect survivors’ job security

So far, access to this kind of leave depends on where you live and who you work for.

New York City joins eight states —Arizona, Washington, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont — which have enacted laws requiring employers to provide safe leave.

In 2015, the U.S. government made paid sick leave — which included safe time for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking — a benefit for all federal employees “to obtain additional counseling, seek relocation, seek assistance from a victim services organization, take related legal action.”

For advocates of paid safe leave, the next step is standardizing the practice across all states. As the National Partnership for Women and Families notes, “Access to this important protection shouldn’t depend on geography.”