Several new laws significantly impacting New York employees and employers were passed in 2017. Employees and employers are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with these new laws and determine how the legal developments will affect their jobs and businesses.
1. New York State Paid Family Leave begins on January 1, 2018, and applies to nearly all employers in New York State. Benefits will be paid through the employer’s insurance, which can be funded through payroll deductions. Employers should contact their insurance providers immediately to add this policy to their coverage.
Employer requirements of the Paid Family Leave (PFL) statute include:
- Continuing employees’ health insurance while they are on leave
- Reinstating employees to the same or comparable jobs upon return from leave
- Informing employees about the leave program and updating the company handbook to include PFL
2. The NYC Fair Workweek Law took effect on November 26, 2017. It applies to fast food chains with 30 or more locations nationwide and retailers with 20 or more employees. The list of requirements it sets out for employers is lengthy, but some noteworthy provisions include:
- Providing employees with written work schedules
- No “clopening” scheduling — having workers work closing and opening shifts on consecutive days
- No on-call scheduling
- No canceling shifts within 72 hours of scheduled start time, unless certain emergencies arise
- No requiring an employee to work a shift on less than 72 hours notice without written consent
3. The Fair Chance Act (NYC “Ban the Box” rules) went into effect in 2015, but the NYC Commission on Human Rights’ final regulations only became effective August 5, 2017. The Fair Chance Act applies to nearly all employers and restricts them from considering criminal background history in making hiring decisions.
A few of the employer requirements are:
- No references to criminal history prohibitions in any recruiting or promotional materials
- Only inquiring about convictions and pending criminal charges, and only after making a conditional offer of employment
- Only withdrawing a conditional offer in very limited circumstances, namely: (1) if the prior conviction is directly related to the job, or (2) if hiring the applicant would pose an unreasonable risk to the employer or to the general public
- Providing the applicant with a written copy of any criminal history report obtained by the employer
4. The NYC Salary History Law became effective on October 31, 2017. It applies to all employers, and requires them to abstain from asking the applicant, or his or her former employer, about the applicant’s current or prior earnings or benefits. It also prohibits prospective employers from searching public records to learn such information.
5. New York State Minimum Wage
The state minimum wage will increase effective December 31, 2017 as follows:
- New York City large employers (11 or more employees): $13.00/hour
- New York City small employers (10 or fewer employees): $12.00/hour
- Long Island/Westchester: $11.00/hour
- Rest of New York: $10.40/hour
Kenneth J. Katz
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