Protecting employees who seek temporary changes to schedules for personal events

The New York City Council passed a bill Tuesday, Dec. 19, sponsored by Councilwoman Debi Rose that gives all employees working in New York City the right to a temporary change in schedule for no more than two days in a year to attend to certain specific personal needs — such as family emergency caregiving situations, family offense matters or sexual offenses — and the right to request any other changes in schedule without risking retaliation from their employer.

“Unfortunately, emergencies happen to all people in all walks of life,” said Councilwoman Rose. “While many New Yorkers are fortunate to have employers who understand this and make reasonable accommodations, a 2015 survey of New Yorkers revealed that 45 percent of respondents have no access to flexible work arrangements. No one should lose their livelihood for asking for an unpaid day to tend to an emergency—and that is what this bill ensures.”

“The results of this bill should be positive for employees and employers alike, leading to a more satisfied and productive workforce,” Councilwoman Rose added. “Employees with workplace flexibility are more likely to report better overall job satisfaction, increased engagement with their job, fewer life interferences with job performance, improved physical health, improved mental health status, and a higher likelihood of remaining with their current employer.”

This bill is especially important for early-career, low-income workers, nearly 70 percent of whom cannot change their scheduled start or stop time if needed. Low-wage workers, female workers, and workers of color disproportionately lack access to flexible work arrangements.

The bill defines "personal event" as the need for a caregiver to provide care to a minor child or care recipient; an employee's need to attend a legal proceeding or hearing for subsistence benefits to which the employee, a family member or the employee's care recipient is a party; or any circumstance that would constitute a basis for permissible use of safe time or sick time.

The bill, which had 28 co-sponsors, passed the City Council by a vote of 47-3.


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