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...

Biometrics and Employee Identification

New York City Has Proposed a Biometrics Privacy Law Biometrics is a new technology identification system being used by a variety of industries for various purposes. The primary means of identification include: Fingerprints Handprints Retinal scans Facial recognition Iris scans Businesses have started using biometrics for time clocks, for entry to secure areas and to login to phones and computers. To this degree, biometrics directly relates to employment situations. States with Biometric Privacy Laws While new technology is often uncharted territory from a legal perspective, three states have already adopted biometric privacy laws: Illinois, Texas and Washington. What the laws have in common is requiring consent before collecting biometric information. Illinois law is the most restrictive and requires employers to destroy the employee’s biometric information after a certain period of time if no longer employed by the business. New York City Proposed Biometric Privacy Law The National Law Review published an article in January 2019 that described the proposed bill under consideration by the New York City Council. The bill would require businesses to give notice to customers if they are collecting biometric identifier information, and it included a provision that if a person’s information was collected, retained, converted, shared or stored in violation of the law, the person had the right to take legal action. Under the proposed NYC law, business owners using biometrics would be required to do the following: Post a clear and conspicuous sign in plain language that explains the business is collecting, retaining, converting, storing and sharing biometric information. Business must also make the following available online: How long they are retaining or storing...

What is the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA)?

New York Passed GENDA in January, 2019 With the passage of GENDA, LGBTQ youth and transgender individuals have protection against discrimination and harassment based on New York’s Human Rights Law. In addition, criminal offenses based on gender identity will now fall under the state’s hate crimes law. Facts About the New Law GENDA also protects youth against “conversion therapy.” Conversion therapy is a practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual to bisexual or heterosexual through the use of psychological or spiritual interventions. Mental health professionals have long known that therapy directed toward changing gender orientation puts patients at risk in terms of their health. The new law reinforces regulations put in place by the New York Governor Cuomo in 2016, which restricted the use of conversion therapy for minors. The bill for Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) had been debated in the state legislature for 16 years, passing the Assembly a number of times and only recently passing the Senate. What Does GENDA Mean for Employers? It makes gender identity or expression a protected class in the same way that race, ethnic origin, age, sex, religion, disability and other discrimination categories are protected classes. Discrimination based on gender identity or expression is illegal in the workplace. It is important for employers to understand the legal definition of this protected class: The term “gender identity or expression” means a person’s actual or perceived gender-related identity, appearance, behavior, expression, or other gender-related characteristic regardless of the sex assigned to that person at birth, including, but not limited to, the status of being transgender. (Legislation.nysenate.gov) As an employer,...

NY DOL Withdraws Predictive Scheduling Decision

Predictive Scheduling Changes No Longer Going into Effect Recently, we released a blog about predictive scheduling changes that the New York Department of Labor had proposed putting into effect. Their proposed changes would have required employers to pay employees for schedule changes that involved reporting to work, for an unscheduled shift (not scheduled 14 days in advance), a cancelled shift, and pay for being on call. However, pressure from employers resulted in the NY DOL withdrawing its decision to move forward with these changes. The predictive scheduling rules would have resulted in additional costs and rigidity that would have been a significant problem for employers. The most encouraging aspect of this outcome is that employers were able to express their disagreement, and their concerns received attention. It appears that the DOL agreed that the employers’ concerns had merit. However, the DOL’s change in decision does not preclude future attempts on the part of the NY Legislature to raise the scheduling issue again. Scheduling Rules that Are Still in Effect New York State has scheduling limitations and required payments that remain in effect. They include: Spread of hour pay when employees work a split shift or a shift that extends more than 10 hours from the beginning of the first shift through the final shift. The split shift and spread of hours pay is equal to one hour at the minimum wage rate. (NY State Department of Labor) Employees in certain industries must receive split shift payment for working nonconsecutive hours. Employers must provide call-in pay for employees working less than three or four hours Employers may not schedule employees...

Right to Disconnect Bill in NYC

Should Employees Have the Right to Disconnect from Work After Hours? In 2017, a “Right to Disconnect” law passed in France, and a similar bill was introduced to the NYC Council last March. It is currently under consideration. Living in the Information Age where we are “plugged in” to our electronic devices and spend a lot of time responding to electronic communications poses new challenges. Many businesses use texts, emails, websites and various social media outlets for communication, marketing and as a means of doing business. Consequently, the line between work and private life has become somewhat blurred. What are employers’ rights? What are workers’ rights? Electronic communications are a new evolving area of law. Any time spent working on a job in addition to the standard 40 hours a week is subject to overtime pay for non-exempt employees. As with any area of emerging law, there are opposing views. As an employer, you must be aware of new laws that could affect how you run your business. What Terms and Conditions Does the NYC Right to Disconnect Bill Include? According to the National Law Review, NYC Council hearings have begun. The proposed law would require employers with 10 or more employees to do the following: Adopt written policy governing the use of electronic devices and other digital communications outside of work hours Establish the usual work hours schedule for each class of employee Establish the categories of paid time off available to employees Prohibit retaliation against employees who exercised or attempted to exercise their right to disconnect Remedies against violations would include the following fines: $250 for each...