30 Sep

September 2020 New York HR Legal Updates

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New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Increasing January 1, 2021

What happened?
On January 1, 2021, New York’s Paid Family Leave (NYPFL) benefits will be increasing, as well as the employee payroll contribution.

What are the details?
Currently the NYPFL provided to employees is capped at 10 weeks. Come January 1, 2021, this will increase to 12 weeks, the maximum amount granted by this law. The maximum amount of benefits an employee is entitled to while on leave is also increasing. The maximum amount of benefits an employee is entitled to receive while on leave is based on the employee’s average weekly wage (AWW) and the state’s average weekly wage (SAWW). Effective January 1, 2021, the maximum amount of benefits will be calculated based on 67% of an employee’s AWW, up to a cap set at 67% of the SAWW. The SAWW for 2021 is $1,450.17. The maximum weekly benefit in 2021 will be $971.61 per week.

To ensure sufficient funds to cover the increased benefits, the employee payroll contribution toward NYPFL also will be adjusted on January 1, 2021 to 0.511% of an employee’s gross wages each pay period, capped at a maximum annual contribution of $385.34.

New York has provided an outline of everything changing going into the new year, as well as an FAQ about the paid family leave, found here.

What do employers need to do?
New York employers should be aware of the increases to the family leave and adjust their workplace practices to accommodate the possibility of extended employee absences.

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New York City Passes Paid Sick Leave Amendments Effective September 30, 2020

What happened?
On September 23, 2020, the city council of New York City signed a new set of amendments for the city’s paid sick leave program. This reached Mayor de Blasio on September 28, 2020, which was promptly signed.

What are the details?
The amendments bring the existing requirements for employers in the city to match the upcoming paid sick leave that will be statewide in New York. The amendments, however, will not share the same effective date as the statewide sick leave program. Instead, these amendments will be fully effective September 30, 2020. The New York State sick leave program will only begin accruing on September 30, 2020 effectively using the sick leave on January 1, 2021. Whereas in New York City, the employees will enjoy the full benefits of the change as soon as the changes are effective.

The following are significant changes from the existing paid sick leave program that the city was running:

  • Employers will now be required to provide the employee’s amount of leave accrued and used during a pay period and their total balance of accrued leave via a pay statement or other form of written documentation provided to employees each pay period.
  • The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (formerly the Department of Consumer Affairs) will provide a notice for employers to provide employees upon their date of hire and again on the effective date of these amendments. Additionally, the department will provide a workplace poster that employers will be required to be posted in a conspicuous location in the workplace.
  • The definition of employee no longer requires a minimum of 80 hours of working inside the city to be eligible for the leave. Instead, if the employee performs any work for any amount of time in the city, they will be eligible for the paid sick leave.
  • Large employers (100 or more employees) will now have to allow employees to accrue up to 56 hours a year, as opposed to the previous upper limit of 40 hours for all employers.
  • Employers who require reasonable documentation (for the use of paid sick leave) as permitted by the city law will be required to reimburse employees for all reasonable costs or expenses incurred for the purpose of obtaining such documentation.
  • Employees will now be able to use their paid sick leave as it accrues. Previously, employers could withhold the use of accrued sick time for the duration of a 120-day probationary period.
    • Employers will not be required to provide any additional time to employees past the yearly maximum previously enforced. For example, a large employer will now need to provide 56 hours of paid sick leave to employees, but if an employee has already used 40 hours from before the passing of the increase, the employee will only receive the additional 16 hours, and not a complete refresh on their annual use limit. Employers with 100 or fewer employees will enjoy the same protection (i.e., if an employee has already used their 40 hours allotted to them, they may not use more once the amendments are effective).
    • Employees of large employers who will now be accruing up to 56 hours of paid sick leave, may not, unless noted otherwise by the employer, use their additional 16 hours of paid sick leave until January 1, 2021.
    • Employees of an employer with less than five employees who made more than $1 million in the previous year may not use their paid sick leave until January 1, 2021, unless otherwise noted by their employer.
  • Small employers (with less than five employees) who had a net income of $1 million or more in the previous tax year will now need to provide paid sick leave. Previously, all small employers regardless of income could provide unpaid sick leave.
  • Instances of domestic violence are now covered by the safe time provisions of the leave.
  • The amendments are set up in a way that the New York City sick leave will always defer to the more restrictive standard created between the state’s New York paid sick leave, and the city’s sick leave.

Note: While these changes are effective September 30, 2020, they will not be enforced until the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection provides the required documents for employers (workplace poster and employee notices). There is no current ETA on when they will be done.

The press release of the mayor signing this legislation can be found here.

The legislation can be found here.

An article summarizing the changes can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Clients with employees in New York City should reach out to their Client Relations Representative and HR contacts to start getting their sick leave plans in compliance.

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New York Paid Sick Leave to Begin Accruing

New York’s Paid Sick leave program will begin accruing sick leave for all eligible employees on September 30, 2020. Employees will not be able to use this sick leave until January 1, 2021. Employers should be sure that they are tracking hours worked by employees and accruing the correct amount of paid sick time for their employees.

Articles going over this law can be found here and here.

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Upcoming Voting Leave Requirements

New York State requires that employers place a posting educating employees about their voting leave rights 10 days before an election occurs. The upcoming election will be held on November 2, 2020, meaning employers should look to have the required posting placed by October 22, 2020. 

The required posting, provided by the state of New York, can be found here.

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