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Families First Coronavirus Response Act and New York Quarantine Leave Law

Clients—

I have spoken to many of you over the past few weeks and it is uplifting to hear your strength and dedication to your businesses and employees. If we have not spoken, I am here should you need any help or guidance as we all navigate new challenges.

 

As I am sure you are aware, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the New York COVID-19 Quarantine Leave Law have been enacted. Please find the required FFCRA Notice that must be distributed to your employees by April 1 on the Department of Labor website. For those who have employees telecommuting, you can distribute this Notice by email or on your intranet. For those who still have employees coming to a physical location, the Notice can be posted with your other required notices.  New York does not have a notice requirement, but all the information you should need can be found at https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/COVID19.

 

Please find a chart I created detailing the basic requirements of both the FFCRA and the NYS law on our other blog post. As particular questions arise specific to your businesses, please reach out to me directly.

 

Until we talk next, I wish you, your employees, and your families the best.

 

Julie

What’s Required for Sexual Harassment Prevention Training in 2020?

Now that you have satisfied the first-year requirement to provide sexual harassment training to all your employees, we want to make sure you are prepared for the 2020 training requirements. As you know, employees must receive sexual harassment prevention training at least once every year. Employers may choose to do this based upon the calendar year, the anniversary of an employee’s start date, or any other date the employer chooses. So, for 2020 you can train your employees at any time during the year, but you should be consistent with that time period each year going forward.

New for 2020, employers are now required to provide a sexual harassment training notice to all employees that contains the company’s sexual harassment prevention policy and the training materials used during the employer’s training program. This notice must be provided at every annual sexual harassment prevention training and at the time of hire. These materials must be given to employees in English and in the employee’s primary language if it is different from English.

New York City employers with fifteen (15) or more employees must also include the following in their training programs:

  • explanation of sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination under local law;
  • innocent bystander intervention; and
  • the complaint process available through the NYC Commission of Human Rights, the NYS Division of Human Rights and the EEOC, including contact information for each.

New York City employers are also required to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to independent contractors. For more information regarding new requirements for independent contractors, please check out our previous blog posting.

Please call us to discuss the new required notice and the content of your 2020 training should you have any questions. For any additional information, please take a look at our FAQs found here.

 

Written by Julie Sitler and Desiree Saad

FAQs for Sexual Harassment Prevention Training in 2020

What constitutes training materials as part of the notice? Training materials include any printed materials, scripts, Q+As, outlines, handouts, PowerPoint slides, etc.

How soon do new employees need to be trained? As employers may be liable for the actions of employees immediately upon hire, all employers are encouraged to complete training as soon as possible. Employers must distribute the notice to employees at the time of hiring, which also includes the training materials. New York City employers should train employees as soon as possible and must train all employees after they work more than eighty (80) hours and at least ninety (90) days in a calendar year.

I am an employer based in New York but also have employees who only work in other states. Do they need to be trained as well? Only employees who work or will work in New York need to be trained. However, if an individual works a portion of their time in New York, even if they’re based in another state, they must be trained.

What happens if some employees fail to take the training despite an employer’s best efforts to make it available, and to require everyone to take it? Employers are required to ensure that all employees receive training on an annual basis. Employers may take appropriate disciplinary action with employees to ensure compliance.

Expanded Rights for Independent Contractors in the Workplace

As of October 11, 2019, certain non-employees (e.g., independent contractors, vendors, or other persons providing services) became covered under provisions of the New York State Human Rights Law. This means that it is now unlawful for an employer to permit the occurrence of discrimination or harassment of independent contractors in the workplace. Employers may be responsible to the non-employee when the employer knew or should have known that the non-employee was subjected to discrimination or harassing misconduct and the employer failed to take immediate and appropriate action.

Similarly, as of January 11, 2020, the New York City Human Rights Law has also expanded coverage and protections to independent contractors and freelancers. Independent contractors and freelancers in New York City are now protected the same as employees, including the right to receive a reasonable accommodation and bring a claim for discrimination and harassment in the workplace. This goes beyond the protections of the New York State Human Rights Law.

In addition, New York City employers with fifteen (15) or more workers are required to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to any independent contractor or freelancer that works more than eighty (80) hours in a calendar year and for at least ninety (90) days. Independent contractors do not need to complete the training at every workplace, but they need to provide proof of completion of at least one sexual harassment prevention training per year. Therefore, companies are now responsible for either providing the annual training to its independent contractors or receiving proof that the independent contractor was trained by another company.

Please contact us to review your independent contractor agreements to ensure adequate notice and complaint procedures are included.

 

Written by Julie Sitler and Desiree Saad

New York Paid Family Leave Updates 2020

Beginning on January 1, 2020, updates to the New York Paid Family Leave (PFL) law will go into effect. The changes to the law are as follows:

  1. Employees taking PFL will now get 60% of their average weekly wage. This amount will be capped at 60% of the current statewide average weekly wage. Therefore, the maximum weekly benefit an employee will receive has increased from $746.41 to $840.70 per week;
  2. The employee contribution rate will increase from 0.1535% to 0.270% of the employee’s gross wages each pay period. The maximum annual employee contribution will increase from $107.97 to $196.72;
  3. Employees will receive benefits based upon the year in which their PFL began. For example, an employee that begins leave in 2019 that carries over into 2020 is not eligible for the increased 2020 benefits.

Looking Ahead

The number of weeks of eligible leave for employees in 2020 will remain at 10 weeks; however, this will increase to 12 weeks in 2021. Additionally, in 2021 the benefit will increase to 67% of the employee’s average weekly wage, up to a cap of 67% of the statewide average weekly wage.

We think that your PFL insurance carriers will make most of the 2020 adjustments automatically. But, if you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. FAQs can be found at https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/2020.

 

Written by Julie Sitler and Desiree Saad 

Salary Updates for 2020

Over the past few years, New York State has been raising the minimum salaries for administrative and executive exempt employees. That means that regardless of duties, your administrative and executive exempt employees will need to make a least:

  • NYC Large Employers (11 or more employees) – $58,500 annually as of 2019;
  • NYC Small Employers (10 or fewer employees) – $58,500 annually for 2020 (increased from $52,650 annually in 2019); and
  • Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties – $50,700 annually for 2020 (increased from $46,800 annually in 2019).

The U.S. Department of Labor has finally followed suit and increased the amount of money all exempt employees must make across the United States. As of January 1, 2020, all exempt employees must make at least $35,568 per year. Employers may use non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments – including commissions – that are paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10% of this minimum salary level.

As a brief refresher, generally exempt employees fall within one of three categories: 1) administrative; 2) executive; and 3) professional. Administrative employees are those whose primary duties include office/non-manual work that is directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer and includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment. Executive employees are those whose primary duties include managing the business and directing the work of at least two full-time employees.

Professional exempt employees are typically divided into two categories: i) learned professionals whose primary duties require advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning which was acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction; or ii) creative professionals whose work involves invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor.

So, what does the DOL increase mean for you and your employees? This means that regardless of duties, in order to be exempt from overtime pay an employee must make over these threshold salary amounts. In New York, your administrative and executive employees should already make enough to comply with the DOL increase. But, for your professional exempt employees, you need to review their salaries to ensure that these folks are all making over $35,568. You also need to look at employees outside of New York to make sure all those employees are making at least $35,568, annually.

Please review your salary information for those employees making less than $35,568. Also, for your administrative and executive employees in NYC, Long Island and Westchester, please note the salary increases for 2020 stated above.

If you have any questions about complying with these new salary requirements, please call us.

 

Written by Julie Sitler and Desiree Saad

Exempt Employee Salary Increases

As has been the trend the past few years, New York State will once again raise the amount most exempt employees must make beginning on December 31, 2018.   This amount is different depending on where the employees works.  Below is a chart with these weekly salary amounts.    Anyone who drops below the salary minimum is automatically considered non-exempt and must be paid overtime for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.

Please remember, that salary is just one component to the exempt status determination.  Once the salary threshold is met, you then must do a duties test analysis of the position to ensure it is properly categorized.

 

Location
12/31/16 12/31/17 12/31/18 12/31/19 12/31/20 12/31/2021
  NYC – Large Employers
(of 11 or more)
$825.00  $975.00  $1,125.00  $1,125.00 $1,125.00 $1,125.00
NYC – Small Employers
(10 or less)
$787.50 $900.00 $1012.50 $1125.00 $1125.00 $1,125.00
Long Island & Westchester $750.00 $825.00 $900.00 $975.00 $1,050.00 $1,125.00
Remainder of New York State $727.50 $780.00 $832.00 $885.00 $937.50 TBD
EXECUTIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE EXEMPTION (per week)

 

New York State Minimum Wage Increases

As of December 31, 2018, all employers in New York State must comply with the following minimum wage requirements.  There may be some additional requirements for specialty businesses like hospitality, building services and farm workers, but the following chart is applicable to most employees in New York State:

 

Location
12/31/16 12/31/17 12/31/18 12/31/19 12/31/20 2021
  NYC – Large Employers (of 11 or more) $11.00 $13.00 $15.00
NYC – Small Employers (10 or less) $10.50 $12.00 $13.50 $15.00
Long Island & Westchester $10.00 $11.00 $12.00 $13.00 $14.00 $15.00
Remainder of New York State $9.70 $10.40 $11.10 $11.80 $12.50
General Minimum Wage Rate Schedule

New York State Enacts Anti-Sexual Harassment Laws

New York State has enacted new legislation to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.  Effective October 9, 2018, the State will require all employers to enact and distribute a written policy prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace.  Among other things, the written policy must: Continue reading “New York State Enacts Anti-Sexual Harassment Laws”