That’s a Wrap: Employment Law Year-End Review (NY)
There was an explosion of activity in wage, hour, and employment law at the state and local levels during 2018, affecting business & nonprofits of all sizes, especially in New York State and New York City. This year-end review examines the most significant new legislation of the past year in NY.
PAID FAMILY LEAVE
Effective January 1, 2018 all private employers in the State of New York with as little as one employee must provide eligible staff with paid family leave to (i) bond with a newly born, adopted, or fostered child, (ii) care for a close relative with a serious health problem, and (iii) assist at home when a family member is deployed for active military service.
Full-time employees become eligible for this mandatory leave after 26 weeks of consecutive work. Part-time employees are also covered, becoming eligible after working 175 days (which need not be consecutive).
In addition to paid time off (of varying degrees), employers are mandated to post a Notice of Compliance, and to otherwise notify employees of their benefits and rights. Employers must also obtain Paid Family Leave Insurance.
If you do not yet have a comprehensive and compliant leave management program, the time to act is now. Indeed, failure to comply with the new law may lead to both civil and criminal liability, resulting in fines, imprisonment or both.
NYC ACCOMMODATION LAW: NEW “COOPERATIVE DIALOGUE” REQUIREMENT
The new “cooperative dialogue” law went into effect in October this year, mandating additional steps NYC-employers must take when an employee requests accommodation based on (i) disability, (ii) pregnancy, child birth or related medical conditions, (iii) domestic violence, sex offenses or stalking, or (iv) religious needs.
The dialogue must occur in a reasonable time from employee request, and the law considers whether employers have a set policy in place to deal with such requests as a factor in assessing compliance with the requirement. After the dialogue occurs, the employer must provide the employee with a written final determination, either granting or denying the accommodation. Under the law, reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to, flexible scheduling, shift changes, and dress code exceptions.
Failure to comply can be costly: covered employers face civil penalties of up to $250,000, and other damages to any affected employees.
STOP SEXUAL HARASSMENT ACT
In the “Me Too” era, sexual harassment laws continue to rapidly changing and expanding, especially at the state and local level.
As of October 2018, covered employers in the State of New York must adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy and provide training on it, to all employees, including part-time, seasonal, and temporary help. While already effective, organizations have until October of next year to comply. The law also impacts the enforceability of mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment claims, as well as the use of non-disclosure agreements when claims are settled privately.
Under the complimentary Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, effective April 1, 2019, covered employers in the City must conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training for all employees, display an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster, and distribute an information sheet on sexual harassment to new hires.
Lack of compliance can result in fines and imprisonment. Affected employees may also be entitled to punitive damages in addition to their compensatory damages.
TEMPORARY SCHEDULE CHANGE LAW (NYC)
In NYC, employees have new rights to request temporary changes to their work schedules, twice a year, to accommodate “personal events,” such as caring for a minor or disabled family member, attending a legal proceeding, or other safe/sick time under applicable law.
Employees become eligible under the law if they work more than 80 hours in the calendar year and are employed for at least 120 days.
To comply, organizations must also post notice: “You Have the Right to Temporary Changes to Your Work Schedule,” in the workplace in an easy-to-view location. Employers may be liable for civil penalties and compensatory damages for failing to comply with the new law.
WAGE & SALARY
The statewide minimum wage will increase, effective December 31, 2018, with specific new rates dependent on employer size, location and industry. New rates range from $11.10 to $15.00.
Additionally, the salary threshold for administrative and executive exempt employees will increase on December 31. The thresholds vary based on employer size, but are substantially higher than the minimums under federal law.
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For more information or to schedule your year-end business compliance review, please email firstname.lastname@example.org *
*This year-end review does not establish an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to be a complete representation of all new or applicable laws. Nothing herein should be construed as legal advice.