Dear Valued Clients, Colleagues and Supporters: Happy New Year! As 2020 rolls in, this month's Newsletter will focus on new laws
going into effect this year (2020) and recommendations for changes to employment manuals for business owners.
Legal Updates for 2020
Several new laws are going into effect this year. We have compiled a list of these laws and posted them on on our website, which you can find here.
Recommended Changes to Employee Manuals and Policies
As the new year begins, employers and business owners should consider taking the time to review their employment manuals and policies to ensure they are up to date. There have been significant changes in various laws related to employee leave and paid time off - especially in New York City/State - in the last year or two and your existing policies may be outdated and not in compliance.
For example, under the New York State Paid Family Leave Act ("PFL"), virtually all employees are entitled to 10 weeks of paid leave to care for a sick family member, bond with a newborn, recently adopted, or recently placed child, or deal with an urgent matter caused by a family member's active military service. The Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") is a federal law that entitles employees of business of a certain size to take unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks for many of the same reasons. Finally, an employee may be eligible for short-term disability benefits under similar circumstances, specifically including after the birth of a child. While employers can generally require FMLA and PFL leave to be used concurrently, short-term disability benefits must be used separately.
Additionally, under the New York City Earned Six and Safe Time law, employees are entitled to accrue up to 40 hours of leave to use if they are sick, need to care for a sick family member, or if they or a family member is the victim of a sexual offense, family offense, stalking, or human trafficking. If the business has 5 or more employees, the leave is paid. Many employers provide significant paid time off above and beyond this minimum threshold, but one issue many employers fail to address is whether or not employees can be required to use their PTO when they take leave under the PFL, FMLA, or short-term disability law. Failure to handle this properly could result in not only a violation under the various leave laws, but potentially under wage and hour laws as well.
These are just two examples of how navigating these overlapping areas of law can cause unexpected pitfalls for employers that can have serious consequences. Employers are therefore strongly encouraged to review their employment manuals and respective policies to ensure they do not inadvertently violate their employees's rights and end up in situations that could have been avoided.