NYC Sick Time Law Now Includes Safe Time; Labor Contract Waiver Still a Non-Sequitur

New York City last week amended its Earned Sick Time Act to allow employees to use accrued time for reasons related to domestic violence. The amendment states that an employee can use accrued safe and sick time for a variety of itemized activities when the employee or a family member has been a victim of a family offense matter, human trafficking, sexual offense or stalking, and adds definitions of each of these terms.  The amendment renames the bill the New York City Safe and Sick Time Law. It is effective  May 7, 2018, which is six months from the day the Mayor signed the bill.

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The amendment caused me to revisit a provision of the NYC law which I have always considered to be an irksome PSL non-sequitur. Section 20-916 allows employers and unions to agree to “expressly” waive all of the provisions of the safe and sick time law as long as the labor contract “provides for a comparable benefit.” “[H]oliday and Sunday time pay at premium rates” is one of the listed examples of a “comparable benefit.”

Where such a wavier exists and the labor contract includes premium pay on holidays and Sundays, bargaining unit employees must still decide between a paycheck and caring for a sick child, and now, between a paycheck and the employee’s or family member’s own safety. Some employers are not even open on holidays or Sundays. Even with those that are, the law does note require that all employees be offered the opportunity to work, i.e., earn premium pay, on any of those days.

“I don’t have any sick or safe time but I have premium time on a holiday and Sundays” seems like a non-sequitur to me.  It reminds me of a conversation between Alice and the Hatter in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

“You should learn not to make personal remarks,” Alice said with some severity. “It’s very rude.” The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he said was, “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”

I have posted this entreaty about PSL waivers before (see here and here): Help me understand.