New York State continues to make employment law reform a top priority. Last year (2018) and this year (2019) have seen major shifts in labor laws. Employees can expect to see the following changes and more in the coming years.
Sexual Harassment Prevention
For too long, employment laws have unintentionally favored employers. They’ve helped them protect reputations or minimize collateral damage in workplace sexual harassment cases. This has led many victims to feel powerless in seeking justice or to feel safe in the workplace. New laws are changing this dynamic.
Prevention Policy and Training
Every New York State employer is required to update their sexual harassment prevention policy. Additionally, employers must train their employees effectively on those policies. As local laws continue to increase support for victims of abuse and harassment, it will become more important that employers comply with these new laws. Additionally, as new sexual harassment cases arise, victims in the workplace will be granted rights to seek justice and damages that they have not had in the past.
Recently, employers were able to mandate sexual harassment arbitration in the workplace. This meant that victims of sexual harassment would be required to settle disputes “in house” rather than seek justice from authorities or in court. Now, employers in New York State are no longer permitted to require arbitration in matters involving sexual harassment.
Rights for Nursing Mothers
In an effort to help mothers transition back to work following maternity leave, employers in New York State must now have a policy and provide arrangements for nursing mothers to perform lactation tasks. This allows nursing mothers the privacy they need during lactation to work more comfortably throughout the day.
Last year, New York State began an initiative to steadily increase wages in an effort to match employee pay with rising costs. New York employees can expect to see their paychecks gradually increase over the next few years.
Over the next two years, all employers in New York State will be required to pay hourly employees at least $15.00 an hour. This stands to nearly double the current federal minimum wage standard of less than $8.00 an hour. This year, the state minimum wage increased to $11.10 an hour. The size of a company’s workforce will also influence increases. For example, employers in New York City with more than 10 employees are required by law to pay hourly employees no less than $15.00 an hour.
Not only are hourly employees getting a pay increase, but salaried employees can also expect a state-mandated pay increase. Already, New York State has required that all employers pay salaried employers a minimum of $832.00 each week. For employers in New York City with large salaried staff, the required minimum salary per week is $1,125.00.
No Testing for Cannabis Users
While not yet officially placed into law, New York State is in the process of introducing new legislation that prevents some employers from testing employees for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The legislation will likely rollout late next year or in early 2021.
Some employers could be exempt from this new law. Emergency responders, construction workers, commercial drivers and other public and private occupations that potentially impact public safety may still allow cannabis testing.
The state is in the process of making it easier for employees to take paid time off. Here are a few of the most recent inclusions.
Time Off to Vote
Any registered voter may now let their employer know that they intend to vote and receive three hours either at the beginning or the end of the work day to do so. This law prevents employers from making it difficult for workers to vote, particularly in cases where there may be a conflict of interest between the employer’s and the employees’ political views.
Paid Family Leave
New York State employees may now take up to 10 weeks of partial paid leave for family reasons, including (but not limited to) forging relationships with newly born or adopted children and assisting family members in distress. Employees must give their employers 30 days’ notice prior to taking this extended paid leave. Currently, employees in New York on extended leave earn a minimum 55% of their regular wages for up to 10 weeks. However, the minimum will increase to 67% of their regular wages for up to 12 weeks by 2021.
Safe leave is an amendment to the existing state sick leave policies. Any employee that has been victim to any kind of domestic violence or abuse, or targeted for kidnap or sexual abuse, may use their sick leave to rest and recover. Additionally, family members of victims may also use their saved sick leave to be present in order to support a suffering family member.
For more information about how The Goodkind Group can help match you with a top New York employer, contact a consultant today at (212) 378-0700 or visit our website.