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Legal Update - December 2018 Newsletter

Yogi Patel - Monday, December 03, 2018

Dear valued clients and supporters: This month's newsletter will focus primarily on 1) recent legislation regarding lactation in the workplace and 2) increases to the minimum wage.

New York City Lactation Law Update
The New York City Council recently passed two bills that seek to enhance and protect the rights of lactating employees in the workplace. Both bills were enacted on November 17, 2018 and are set to go into effect on March 18, 2019.

The first bill, Int. No. 879-A, will require employers with 4 or more employees to provide a lactation room and refrigerator for the storage of breast milk within a "reasonable proximity" to the employee's work area. A lactation room is defined as a "sanitary place, other than a restroom, that can be used to express breast milk shielded from view and free from intrusion and that includes at a minimum an electrical outlet, a chair, a surface on which to place a breast pump and other personal items, and nearby access to running water." While the room does not have to be solely designated for lactation purposes, it must exclusively be used as a lactation room while an employee is expressing milk and employers must notify other employees as to when the room is being used exclusively for the expression of milk. Should the provision of a lactation room pose an undue hardship on an employer, the employer must engage in a cooperative dialogue with the lactating employee to determine what alternative reasonable accommodation might be made available.

The second bill, Int. No. 905-A, will require covered employers to have a written lactation room accommodation policy that meets specific requirements.

New York State Minimum Wage Increases
Wages across New York State are set to increase again on December 31, 2018. Employers in New York City with more than 11 employee will be required to pay a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour and NYC employers with 10 or fewer employers will have to pay an hourly rate of $13.50. Employers in Long Island and Westchester will have to pay employees at least $12.00, while employers in the rest of the state will have to pay a minimum hourly rate of $11.10. In the fast food industry, employees in New York City will be entitled to an hourly rate of $15.00, while employees the rest of the state will be paid $12.75.

Wages for tipped workers are also set to increase. NYC employers with 11 or more employees will have to pay at least $10.00 per hour, while the rate will be $9.00 for smaller NYC employers. Long Island and Westchester tipped employees will have to be paid at least $8.00 per hour, while those in the rest of the state must receive at least $7.50. The maximum tip credit each employer may claim is the difference between the applicable general minimum wage and the minimum wage for tipped employees. For example, the general minimum wage for large NYC employers will be $15.00 and the minimum wage for tipped employees will be $10.00, so the maximum tip credit will be $5.00.

 

Finally, we at Lloyd Patel LLP hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy new year.

Readers are encouraged to follow us on Twitter (@lloydpatelllp) and Facebook to receive updates on these and other issues throughout the month.

 


Legal Update - May 2016 Newsletter

Yogi Patel - Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dear valued clients and supporters: This month's newsletter will focus on: (1) the I-9 employment verification process; (2) the gradual rise in the minimum wage to $15 per hour in NYS; and (3) paid medical leave in New York.

The I-9 Verification Process
The Form I-9 is the primary mechanism that employers are required to use for the purposes of verifying an individual's identity and authorization to work in the United States. Under federal law, employers must have all prospective employees complete an I-9 form, along with other official documents, before they are able to commence their employment. However, as federal law also protects all individuals against immigration-based discrimination, employers cannot simply have job applicants fill out an I-9; they must integrate the I-9 into a hiring process that ensures equal treatment of everyone. For example, if an employer asks an an individual as part of the job application to fill out an I-9, the employer could be found to have committed employment discrimination and/or document abuse. It is only after an employer has decided to hire someone that the individual's authorization to work may be verified. Further, when an employee is completing an I-9, an employer may not insist that the employee provide a specific employment authorization document, such as a passport or green card. Federal law provides a list of acceptable documents an employee may provide, and an employer who attempts to restrict the list will be penalized. The punishment for acts of employment discrimination and/or document abuse can be as much as thousands of dollars per violation, which can quickly add up to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on how many applicants an employer processes. The financial penalties increase for repeat offenders, and eventually employers can be imprisoned if they engage in a pattern of hiring unauthorized workers. For further information on the proper protocols employers should follow and how to avoid the pitfalls of the I-9 process, please return here to our website next month for a more in-depth article.

$15 Minimum Wage
As part of the 2016-2017 state budget, legislation in New York was passed that gradually will raise the minimum wage state-wide to $15 per hour. The increases will vary based on business size and location according to the following schedule: For New York City businesses with 11 or more employees, the minimum wage will be $11 per hour at the end of 2016, after which it will increase by $2 annually until it reaches $15 on December 31, 2018. For New York City businesses with 10 or fewer employees, the minimum wage will be $10.50 per hour at the end of 2016, then it will rise by $1.50 per year until December 31, 2019, when it reaches $15. For businesses in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, the minimum wage will be $10 per hour by the end of 2016, followed by annual increases of $1 until it reaches $15 on December 31, 2021. Finally, for business elsewhere in the state, the minimum wage will be $9.70 per hour at the end of 2016, and it will grow by 70 cents a year until it reaches $12.50 on December 31, 2020. At that point, the minimum wage will continue to increase until it reaches $15 per hour according to a new schedule to be set by the Division of Budged (DOB). One minor caveat to this legislation is that in 2019, the DOB Director will analyze the regional economies state-wide and will have the authority to freeze any increases deemed necessary. Employers and Employees alike should stay abreast of any and all updates to the minimum wage and the scheduled increases as set by the DOB.


Paid Family Leave
Also as part of the 2016-2017 budget, legislatures passed a program that entitles employees to 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for a newborn or a seriously ill family member. Beginning in 2018, employees who have worked for an employer for six months will be eligible to receive 50 percent of their average weekly wage for up to 12 weeks under the program. The total amount an employee may receive will be capped at 50 percent of the state-wide average weekly wage. By 2021, the figures will increase to 67 percent of an employee's average weekly wage, capped at 67 percent of the state-wide average. The program will be funded through a small payroll deduction, so there will be no costs to businesses. Employers should, however, ensure that their payroll practices are updated as the implementation date for the program approaches.

Readers are encouraged to follow us on Twitter (@lloydpatelllp) and Facebook to receive updates on these and other issues throughout the month.

 


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