What Employers Should Know About Time Off to Vote

The NY State Legislature Passed an Election Law Time off to vote for employees was part of the legislation that the NY State Legislature passed in April of 2019. The name of the law is the New York State Election Law and it went into effect immediately. What Does the Time Off to Vote Mean for Employers? Based on the new law, employers must allow their employees who are registered voters up to three hours of time off to vote. The employee will lose no pay for the three hours and this applies to voting at any election. Guidelines for the Time Off The employer must allow the time off only at the beginning or end of the employee’s work shift. The employer either designates the time or the employee and employer can mutually agree on the time. The employee must notify the employer about taking time off to vote two working days before the Election Day. Posting a Notice of the NY State Election Law Employers must post in the workplace a notice that states the provisions of the NY State Election law. They must post it conspicuously no less than 10 working days before every election. In addition, they must keep the notice posted until the election polls close that day. What Might Have Prompted the New Law? According to an article in The New York Times, the mid term elections in 2018 in New York favored incumbents. New York was the only state in the country that held separate state and federal primary elections. Two separate voting days made it more difficult for voters to turn...

New York City’s Ban on Discrimination for Sexual and Reproductive Health Decisions

What Does This New Protected Class Mean for NYC Employers? New York City passed legislation that bans discrimination for sexual and reproductive health decisions. While New York City has some of the United States’ most expansive human rights laws, this law gave specific rights, creating new protected class regarding “sexual and reproductive health decisions.” The law went into effect in New York City on May 20, 2019. This new protected class joined the already existing anti-discrimination protected classes of New York City Human Rights Law. Protected classes include age, race, creed, color, national origin, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, caregiver status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation and alienage or citizenship status. What Does the New Protected Category Mean in Everyday Language? It means that employers are subject to discrimination litigation if they make decisions in hiring, promoting or firing employees based on this new class. Examples would be deciding to fire an employee because she got an abortion, or deciding not to hire an employee based on the employee’s decision whether to use or not use birth control. According to an article in The National Law Review, the following are examples of services related to sexual and reproductive health decisions: Fertility-related medical procedures Sexually transmitted disease prevention, testing and treatment Family planning services and counseling Use of birth control drugs and supplies Emergency contraception Sterilization procedures Pregnancy testing Abortion What Actions Should Employers Take? As an employer, you should revise your handbooks and employment policies by adding the protected category of “sexual and reproductive health decisions.” You should also train your managers, employees and any HR personnel...

Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA) Proposed Amendments

Will NYC Add Personal Time and Expand Employee Protections? The NYC Council is considering expanding ESSTA to include paid “personal time” for employees. Employees could use personal time for any reason. In addition, the employee would not have to document the reason for extended paid time off work. If Passed, What Are the Provisions of the New Bill? According to the National Law Review, employees and non-agency employed domestic workers, who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year, are eligible. They could earn one hour of personal time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 80 hours per year. Currently, ESSTA provides eligible employees with sick and safety time. Personal time would be additional. An employer could count the unused 80 hours from a previous year for the current year, establishing the maximum time as already earned. However, additional time would not keep accruing year after year. ESSTA applies to employers with five or more employees, and the personal time would apply to employers of this size as well. The exception would be domestic workers who would be entitled to be paid for personal time for any size of employer. What Employers Would Remain Unaffected by Personal Time? Employers who already provide paid vacation or other paid time off would not have to pay for personal time. The only requirement is that the paid time off could be used in the same way and under the same conditions as personal time as covered by the new law. Employees Would Have Expanded ESSTA Protections for Leave Use Currently ESSTA allows employers to restrict the use...

Pre-Employment Testing for Marijuana and THC

Drug Testing: New York City ‘s New Law A ban on pre-employment testing for marijuana and THC recently became law in New York City. Pre-employment testing for marijuana and THC had long been an accepted standard in the employment process for certain industries. However, the legal landscape is changing. With the legalization of medical marijuana (and recreational marijuana in certain states), employers must re-evaluate certain company policies. New York is no exception. On May 10, New York City passed a law that prohibited employers, labor organizations and employment agencies from conducting pre-employment testing for THC. THC is an active ingredient in marijuana and cannabis. The law goes into effect in one year, on May 10, 2020. This time interval provides NYC employers with time to prepare. Industries Exempt from the Ban on Pre-Employment Testing for Marijuana and THC According to JDSupra, industries that are safety-sensitive are not subject to the new law. Some of these industries include: Police and law enforcement positions Jobs requiring OSHA certification or construction safety training under New York state laws Commercial driver’s license positions Positions involved with the supervision or care of children, medical patients or vulnerable persons Positions capable of significantly impacting the health or safety of employees or the public Employees applying for state or federal jobs would still be subject to pre-employment drug testing. This would include state employees, truck drivers, pilots or contractors. The Reason for the Ban on Pre-Employment Testing Legislators considered the practice discriminatory for job applicants. Washington D.C. has also passed a law that prohibits employers from testing for marijuana before extending a job offer. The NYC...

Should You Hire Interns?

New York Laws that Govern Paid and Unpaid Interns Some businesses hire interns or take on unpaid interns. This may seem like a good idea, and the costs of paying an intern are usually less than a regular worker. However, if taking on an unpaid intern, it is vital that the business owner understands the requirements. NY law defines the rules that differentiate an employee from an unpaid intern. If the employment relationship does not meet all the 11 criteria for an unpaid intern, then the employer must pay the intern based on minimum wage law. NY Law for Hiring Unpaid Interns Under New York Labor Law, the 11 criteria are as follows: The training must be similar to training in an educational program. The training is for the intern’s benefit. An example would be that the academic institution would give the student credit for the internship. Any benefit to the employer would be incidental. The intern does not replace regular workers and must work under close supervision. When interns receive the same supervision as other employees, it indicates an employee relationship and not an intern relationship. The employer does not gain an advantage from the intern’s work. In fact, the intern may sometimes actually impede the business’s operations. Once the internship concludes, the intern is not necessarily entitled to a job. The intern receives written notification about not being paid any wages. Persons who supervise the intern must be competent, knowledgeable and have adequate experience to meet the educational goals and requirements of the training program. Interns do not receive employee benefits (i.e. health and dental insurance, discounted...