March 2021 New York HR Legal Updates

New York Passes COVID-19 Vaccination Paid Leave

Update Applicable to:
All New York Employers.

What happened?
The New York State Senate unanimously voted 62-0 on March 1, 2021, to grant both private and public employees up to four hours of paid leave per injection to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

What are the details?
The bill amends the New York Labor Law (NYLL) to add Section 196-C, requiring that all private employers provide their employees with a “sufficient period of time,” up to four hours, of paid leave to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The leave is four hours per injection, meaning employees who receive a two-dose vaccine can potentially be entitled to up to eight hours of paid time off under the law. The leave cannot be charged against any other leave to which the employee is entitled, including the recently enacted paid sick leave requirements. Employees may also use the

The entire period of leave must be provided at an employee’s regular rate of pay. The requirements of the law, however, can be waived by a collective bargaining agreement if it explicitly references NYLL 196-C. The bill also forbids an employer from discriminating against, retaliating against, or interfering with an employee exercising their rights under the law, including requesting paid leave to be vaccinated.

The requirement to provide this leave will expire on December 31, 2022.

The information was provided by Fisher Phillips and Littler Mendelson P.C., whose articles can be found here and here, respectively.

What do employers need to do?
New York employers should read the above information and update their workplace leave policy to accommodate employee’s vaccine needs.

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New York City Issues Final Rule Regarding Religious and Race Hairstyle Discrimination

Update Applicable to:
All New York City Employers.

What happened?
Effective January 30, 2021, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (“Commission”) amended Title 47 of the Rules of the City of New York to provide an example and add exceptions to clarify protections based on race, creed, and religion, related to hair textures, hairstyles, including the use of head coverings, and hair lengths, which are commonly or historically associated with a particular race, creed, or religion.

What are the details?
This Final Rule codifies much of the Commission’s enforcement guidance that was released in 2019 regarding race-based hairstyle discrimination. The Final Rule also sought to codify that hair textures, hairstyles, head coverings, and hair length can be elements of an individual’s religious practices such that discrimination based on hair can function as a proxy for religious discrimination and constitute a form of unlawful stereotyping.

The Final Rule provides that, while a “legitimate health or safety concern” can provide a defense against a discrimination claim, “speculative health or safety concerns may not be used as a pretext for religious discrimination.”  Therefore, the Commission will consider the following factors in determining whether a restriction or prohibition constitutes a pretext for discrimination or is based on legitimate health or safety concerns:

  • the nature of the articulated health or safety concern;
  • whether the restriction or prohibition is narrowly tailored to address the concern;
  • the availability of alternatives to the restriction or prohibition; and
  • whether the restriction or prohibition has been applied in a discriminatory manner.

Notwithstanding the possible defense for health or safety concerns, the Final Rule unequivocally states that “it is not a defense that a restriction or prohibition is based on customer preference or based on a perception that a person’s hair is ‘unprofessional,’ a ‘distraction,’ or inconsistent with a covered entity’s image.”  Thus, the Commission rejects the notion that a “professional image” can serve as an undue hardship defense against a religious discrimination claim based on religious hairstyle or head coverings.  The Commission further rejects “trivial or minor losses of efficiency” as a possible undue hardship defense in this context.

More details about the final rule may be found here.

What do employers need to do?
New York City employers should review the above information and update any applicable workplace practices that may violate this final ruling.

December 2020 New York HR Legal Updates

NY Department of Labor Releases New Proposed Rules for Statewide Paid Sick Leave Program

What happened?
On December 2, 2020, the New York Department of Labor (DOL) issued draft regulations under the New York Paid Sick Leave Law.

What are the details?
The proposed regulations would further define certain terms in the Paid Sick Leave Law, like Domestic Partner, Family Offense, Human Trafficking, and Mental Illness. The regulations would also include additional clarification on what documentation employers may ask for to verify the need to provide Paid Sick Leave. Namely, it clarifies that employer may not require employees to provide documentation of the need to take leave, as a condition to utilize the leave initially.

Employer size is clarified on, but not how most multi-state employer would have wanted. Instead, the regulations simply clarifies that if an employer falls below a Paid Sick Leave threshold, and then goes above another one in the middle of the year, they must provide the higher paid sick leave required of the larger size, throughout the entire year, regardless if they fall back down to the lower employer size bracket.

For example, if an employer starts 2021 with 95 employees, they must allow employees to begin accruing up to at least 40 hours of paid sick leave that year. If, however, the company hires more employees, bringing them up to 100 or more on any day, then, at that point, the employer must increase the maximum annual accrual and usage to 56 hours prospectively. The maximum accrual/usage would not fall back to 40 hours for the rest of the year under any circumstances.

The regulations end by clarifying that employees do not need to work a  flat 30 hours to accrue an hour of Paid Sick Leave, and instead accrue it as they work. An employee working 35 hours a week is not only accruing one hour of paid sick leave a week, for example, and would instead accrue more due to the additional 5 hours worked each week.

An article going more in depth on the changes can be found here.

The proposed regulations can be found at the bottom of the Paid Sick Leave page provided by the State, found here.

What do employers need to do?
New York Employers should review the above information and ensure their Paid Sick Leave policies are in alignment with these proposed regulations. 

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NYC Seeking to Eliminate At-Will Employment for Fast Food Industry

What happened?
On December 17, 2020, New York City Council passed amendments to the Fair Work Practices chapter of the New York City Administrative Code, referred to as the “Fair Work Week Law,” that will significantly alter the relationship between covered employers and employees of fast food establishments.

 

What are the details?
Generally speaking the bills would do the following:

An employer would be prohibited from terminating fast food employees’ employment, reducing their hours by 15% of their regular schedule or by 15% of any weekly work schedule, or indefinitely suspending employees, unless the fast food employer has “just cause” to do so, or is compelled to do so by bona fide economic concerns. The bills would require all fast food employers to adopt clear policies relating to all standards of conduct; institute a progressive discipline policy for less-egregious infractions; perform “adequate training” on the employer’s standards; conduct a “fair and objective investigation into the job performance or misconduct”; and, within five days of discharging a fast food employee, provide a written explanation of the “precise reasons” for the action.  For employees whose jobs are terminated due to economic reasons, the bills would require the selection of laid-off employees to be in reverse seniority order and create functional recall rights for a period of up to 12 months.  Employees would have the right to file for arbitration to challenge whether or not an employer had “just cause” for its actions or otherwise complied with the law.

An article breaking down these amendments which also includes links to the amendments themselves, can be found here.  A more recent article, covering the amendments after they passed can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
New York City employers in the fast food industry should consult with their employment attorneys to know what workplace policies they should update

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New York City Expands Ban-the-Box Initiative

What happened?
On December 10, 2020, the New York City Council passed bill Int. 1314-A, which significantly expands the scope of New York City’s “ban-the-box” law, the New York City Fair Chance Act (FCA).

What are the details?
The changes to the FCA will impact the following subjects 

  • Restrictions on consideration of criminal accusations and arrests pending at time of application
  • Consideration of convictions occurring during employment
  • Non-pending arrests and criminal accusations and adjournments in contemplation of dismissal
  • Violations and non-criminal offenses
  • Restrictions on revocation of conditional offer of employment
  • Affirmative requirement to solicit information for the fair chance act factors

An article going in depth on all of these changes can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
New York City Employers should review the above information and update their hiring practices to bring themselves into compliance with the new restrictions.

November 2020 New York HR Legal Updates

New York Employers Required to Send Additional Warn Notices

What happened?
On November 11, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) A10674a.

What are the details?
Effective immediately AB A1067a requires employers to send out WARN triggered notices to additional governmental agencies. The new agencies are as follows:

  • The chief elected official of the unit or units of local government and the school district or districts in which the WARN even will occur; and
  • Each locality that provides police, firefighting, emergency medical or ambulance services or other emergency services to the site of employment where the WARN event is occurring.

The regulation currently does not provide what exactly needs to be included in the notices sent to these local governmental bodies. Until, if ever, the regulations are updated with information regarding the content of the notices, employers have been advised to simply send notices that provide the same information that would be required for a federal WARN notice.

An article covering this new regulation can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers with medium to large amounts of employees within New York State should review the above information and update their WARN practices accordingly.

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REMINDER: New York and New York City Paid Sick Leave Laws Effective January 1, 2021

What happened?
Both New York State and New York City will have paid sick leave laws going into effect on January 1, 2021.

What are the details?
New York State will be implementing its new statewide paid sick leave program. New York City will be implementing its amendments that will cause the city-wide paid sick leave program to mirror almost exactly, the New York State paid sick leave program.

An article covering New York States paid sick leave program can be found here.

An article covering New York City’s paid sick leave amendments can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
New York employers should remember to update their workplace practice ahead of time to stay in compliance upon the effective date of these laws.

October 2020 New York HR Legal Updates

New York Paid Family Leave Benefits to Increase

What happened?
Benefits for New York State’s Paid Family Medical leave policy will increase starting January 1, 2021.

What are the details?
Starting 2021, qualifying employees will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of job protected paid time off, up from the 10 weeks currently provided.

Employees may use the leave for the following reasons:

  • Bonding with a new child
  • Caring for a family member’s health condition
  • Assisting family with a military servicemember who is deployed overseas

Additionally, in the spring of 2020, the law was amended to cover COVID-related uses. Finally, the cap on the weekly benefit amount will be raised as well to 67% of their average weekly wage, up to $1,450.17.

An article covering these changes and going over New York Paid Family Leave generally can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
New York employers should start looking to update their paid family leave policies in their handbooks. Training may be needed for supervisors and management to ensure proper administration.

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New York Issues First Set of Guidance on Statewide Sick Leave Program

What happened?
New York state has updated its website to include guidance on the newly effective paid sick leave program. The guidance includes additional information and an official FAQ.

What are the details?
New York’s paid sick leave started accruing for employees on September 30, 2020. However, they are not eligible to use this paid sick leave until January 1, 2021. New York has finally updated their website to provide additional information to employers, who have up until now only had the legislation to go off of on how to proceed.

The information may be found on the state’s website here.

The very informative FAQ can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
It is highly encouraged for New York employers to review the above links. New York’s sick leave will impact every business operating within the state. Employers should contact their Client Relations Specialist if they would like to make the first steps to setting up a compliant paid sick leave plan.

September 2020 New York HR Legal Updates

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.

August 2020 New York HR Legal Updates

New York State Sick Leave Effective September 30, 2020

What happened?
The date in which employers in New York state will be expected to provide paid sick leave to their employees has almost arrived.

What are the details?
On September 30, 2020, New York’s new statewide permanent sick leave goes into effect. This will require employers to provide unpaid and paid sick leave benefits to their employees. Under the paid sick leave law employers with:

  1. Fewer than four employees and a net income of $1 million or less in the previous tax year must provide each employee with up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave in each calendar year;
  2. With four or fewer and a net income greater than $1 million in the previous tax year, or between five and 99 employees in any calendar year, must provide each employee with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each calendar year, and
  3. With 100 or more employees in any calendar year must provide at least 56 hours of paid sick leave in each calendar year.

Employers are allowed to frontload the employee’s yearly allotment. If they decide to not frontload, employees must accrue at a rate no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employers may restrict the use of any accrued sick time to January 1, 2021. Additionally, the law will require employers to maintain accurate payroll records for up to six years, showing the amounts of paid sick leave provided to any employees.

A more detailed breakdown of the New York paid sick leave can be found here.

The budget bill that introduces this paid sick leave program can be found here. Search for “Part J” to find the relevant information.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should begin training their employees on their rights for paid sick leave and management on how to administer the paid sick leave. Employers should review their recordkeeping processes to accommodate the six-year requirement of recordkeeping for payroll information.

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Suffolk County, New York Expands Anti-Discrimination Definitions

What happened?
Suffolk County, New York has expanded their anti-discrimination definitions in their human rights law to include race and religious discrimination based on hairstyle, hair texture, and religious garments.

What are the details?
Suffolk County’s human rights law prohibits discrimination based on gender and “group identity.” Prior to the amendment, the law defined “group identity” as the “actual or perceived race, color, creed, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, or familial status of any individual, as well as the actual military status of any individual.” The amendment adds “visible traits of an individual, such as natural hair texture, protective hairstyles and the donning of religious garments or items,” to the definition of “group identity.” Protective hairstyles can include hairstyles like braids, locks, and twists.

The Commission on Human Rights has provided guidance on race discrimination on the basis of hair.

What do employers need to do?
Employers in Suffolk County should update their anti-discrimination policies to reflect the additions made by the amendment.

July 2020 New York HR Legal Updates

New York Supreme Court Enforces Anti-Mandatory Arbitration Law

What happened?
The New York Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Civil Practice Law and Rules (“CPLR”) 7515, New York’s anti-mandatory arbitration law.

What are the details?
On July 30, 2020, the New York Supreme Court denied a motion to compel arbitration and enforced CPLR 7515 in Andowah Newton v. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Inc., Sup, Ct., N.Y. County, July 13, 2020,. This resulted in the arbitration agreement that the employee had signed becoming null and void. The defendant had claimed that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) would allow the arbitration agreement to be enforceable and that it would supersede the state’s CPLR. The court ruled that the FAA is only applicable to matters of commerce and that sexual harassment and employment discrimination cannot, by their very nature, be matters of commerce.

A more detailed breakdown of the case can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers in New York should review their mandatory arbitration agreements. If the arbitration agreements have clauses regarding sexual harassment and/or employment discrimination, they should seek legal counsel to ensure the agreements are in compliance with CPLR 7515.

Summary of Laws with Upcoming Effective Dates

Sexual Harassment Claims
Effective August 12, 2020, the statute of limitations is extended from one year to three years for employees to file sexual harassment complaints with the New York Division on Human Rights.

New York City Sexual Harassment Training
In New York City’s Commission on Human Rights guidance regarding an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) effective January 11,

2020, which expanded protections under the law to independent contractors and freelancers, employers are now required to provide certain independent contractors and freelancers with sexual harassment prevention training in accordance with the NYCHRL. Similar to employees and interns, independent contractors must receive this training if they work for an employer of 15 or more people, work more than 80 hours in a calendar year, and work for at least 90 days.

Suffolk County Criminal Background
Effective August 25, 2020, employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited from inquiring about a job applicant’s prior criminal convictions during the application process or before a first interview.

The law allows employers to inquire about prior criminal convictions when:

  • The employer is hiring for licensed trades or professions (including interns and apprentices) and asks applicants the same questions asked by the trade or professional licensing body in accordance with state law.
  • Certain convictions under or violations of state or federal law prohibit employment in that position.
  • The inquiries are authorized by law.

The restrictions do not apply to certain public employers, private schools, and private service providers of direct services specific to the care or supervision of children, young adults, senior citizens, or the physically or mentally disabled.

Paid Sick Leave
Effective September 30, 2020, New York’s statewide paid sick leave law requires that employers with 100 or more employees provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year, and employers with fewer than 100 employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, except employers with fewer than four employees and a net income of less than $1 million, whom can provide sick leave as unpaid.

Employees accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked beginning September 30, 2020 or when employment begins, whichever is later. Employers are not required to allow use of sick leave until January 1, 2021.

Unused sick leave must be carried over to the next calendar year, but the employer may limit the amount of sick leave that may be used in a calendar year to 40 hours (employers with fewer than 100 employees) and 56 hours (employers with 100 or more employees).

Sick leave may be used for the employee’s or employee’s family member’s mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; medical diagnosis, care or treatment; and preventive medical care. It can also be used for an absence for various reasons when the employee or employee’s family member has been the victim of domestic abuse, a family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking.

June 2020 New York HR Legal Updates

New Rules Adopted Clarifying the “Safety-Sensitive” Exception

What happened?
New York City has adopted new rules clarifying the “Safety-Sensitive” exception for pre-employment tests.

What are the details?
The new rules established by New York City grant greater leeway to employers to administer marijuana tests in the pre-employment process. The following guidelines outline what types of positions will be granted “Safety-Sensitive” status:

  • The position requires that an employee regularly, or within one week of beginning employment, work on an active construction site;
    • The position requires that an employee regularly operate heavy machinery;
    • The position requires that an employee regularly work on or near power or gas utility lines;
    • The position requires that an employee operate a motor vehicle on most work shifts;
    • The position requires work relating to fueling an aircraft, providing information regarding aircraft weight and balance, or maintaining or operating aircraft support equipment; or
    • Impairment would interfere with the employee’s ability to take adequate care in the carrying out of his or her job duties and would pose an immediate risk of death or serious physical harm to the employee or to other people.

These build upon the previous exemptions listed below:

  • positions in law enforcement;
    • certain construction jobs (as defined in the law);
  • any position requiring a commercial driver’s license; and
    • positions requiring the supervision or care of children, medical patients, or vulnerable persons (as defined in the law).

Read more about the exemption here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers conducting marijuana tests in New York City will need to review the responsibilities of each position to ensure they fit the above criteria to meet exemption status.

The official Notice of Adoption can be found here.

Summary of State Laws (Q1 & Q2 2020)

Voting Leave
Effective April 3, 2020, New York’s voting leave law is amended (reversing most of the amendments effective April 12, 2019) to require an employer to provide up to two hours of paid voting leave. The amendments also include adding back the requirements that leave may be taken by an employee without sufficient time outside of working hours to vote and that employees must notify their employer at least two workdays (but not more than 10 workdays) before election day of the need for time off to vote.

Wage Theft
Effective June 23, 2020, amendments to the Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) require employers who claim prevailing wage supplements to provide employees with a wage rate notice at the time of hire that includes:

  • Hourly rate claimed
  • Type of supplement, such as pension or health care
  • Names and addresses of the person or entity providing the supplement
  • Agreement, if any, requiring or providing for such supplement, together with information on how copies of such agreements or summaries may be obtained by an employee.

Covered employers are also required to include, on each employee’s wage statement, the type of each prevailing wage supplement claimed and the hourly rate for each supplement or be accompanied by a copy of the hiring notice containing that information.

Effective October 1, 2020, home health care employers in certain locations are required to include the benefit portion of the minimum rate of home care aide total compensation on the home care worker’s wage rate notice at the time of hire and on the wage statements. The wage statement must also include the type of such benefits provided and the name and address of the person or entity providing such benefits.

Tip Credit Reduction
Effective June 30, 2020, the maximum tip credit for workers covered by the Minimum Wage Order for Miscellaneous Industries and Occupations is reduced by 50% (and completely eliminated on December 31, 2020).

Call Center Jobs Notice Requirements
Effective June 30, 2020, the New York Call Center Jobs Act requires covered call center employers to provide advance notice of at least 100 days to the Labor Commissioner if the employer intends to relocate out of New York State, or reduce call volume by at least 30% with the intent to relocate out of state. In addition, the Act requires the Labor Commissioner to keep a list of call center employers that have relocated out of state, which will be available on the New York State Department of Labor website. Such relocations affect the call center employers’ access to state grants, tax benefits, and procurement contracts.

Sexual Harassment Claims
Effective August 12, 2020, the statute of limitations is extended from one year to three years for employees to file sexual harassment complaints with the New York Division on Human Rights.

New York City Sexual Harassment Training
In New York City’s Commission on Human Rights guidance regarding an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) effective January 11, 2020, which expanded protections under the law to independent contractors and freelancers, employers are now required to provide certain independent contractors and freelancers with sexual harassment prevention training in accordance with the NYCHRL. Similar to employees and interns, independent contractors must receive this training if they work for an employer of 15 or more people, work more than 80 hours in a calendar year, and work for at least 90 days.

Suffolk County Criminal Background
Effective August 25, 2020, employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited from inquiring about a job applicant’s prior criminal convictions during the application process or before a first interview.

The law allows employers to inquire about prior criminal convictions when:

  • The employer is hiring for licensed trades or professions (including interns and apprentices) and asks applicants the same questions asked by the trade or professional licensing body in accordance with state law.
  • Certain convictions under or violations of state or federal law prohibit employment in that position.
  • The inquiries are authorized by law.

The restrictions do not apply to certain public employers, private schools, and private service providers of direct services specific to the care or supervision of children, young adults, senior citizens, or the physically or mentally disabled.

Paid Sick Leave
Effective September 30, 2020, New York’s statewide paid sick leave law requires that employers with 100 or more employees provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year, and employers with fewer than 100 employees provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, except employers with fewer than four employees and a net income of less than $1 million, whom can provide sick leave as unpaid. Employees accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked beginning September 30, 2020, or when employment begins, whichever is later. Employers are not required to allow the use of sick leave until January 1, 2021.

Unused sick leave must be carried over to the next calendar year, but the employer may limit the amount of sick leave that may be used in a calendar year to 40 hours (employers with fewer than 100 employees) and 56 hours (employers with 100 or more employees).

Sick leave may be used for the employee’s or employee’s family member’s mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; medical diagnosis, care or treatment; and preventive medical care. It can also be used for an absence for various reasons when the employee or employee’s family member has been the victim of domestic abuse, a family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking.

May 2020 New York HR Legal Updates

Voting

What happened?
Elections are coming up on June 23, 2020.

What are the details?
Employees must be given time off to be able to participate in voting.

What do employers need to do?
Post the required notice no later than 10 days prior to June 23, 2020.

Notice/Posting: https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/TimeOffToVoteNotice.pdf

Law: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/ELN/3-110

FAQs: https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/TimeOffToVoteFAQ.pdf

Additional Resources: https://www.rockthevote.org/how-to-vote/election-dates-deadlines/new-york/

April 2020 New York HR Legal Updates

Essential Workers

What happened?
Effective April 15, 2020 at 8:00 p.m., all essential employers must provide masks for their employees to wear.

What are the details?
Employees must wear face masks when in contact with customers or members of the public.

What do employers need to do?
If you are essential employer, provide masks to all employees.

Resources
https://www.seyfarth.com/news-insights/new-york-issues-executive-order-requiring-employers-to-provide-essential-workers-with-face-masks.html