By Tracey I. Levy and Alexandra Lapes
As the new year quickly approaches, employers should aim to update their policies and practices to stay legally compliant and prepare their workforce for the new year. In particular, employers in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey need to ensure they are complying with harassment prevention training requirements, have updated their sick and safe leave and their harassment and discrimination prevention policies, and have updated their procedures to meet new notice, payroll, and tracking requirements.
This is year two for meeting the annual New York State and New York City interactive sexual harassment prevention training requirements. Employers that have not yet conducted training this year should make that a priority before year-end to remain in compliance at both the state and city levels. Note, for new hires, New York City requires employers with 15 or more employees to conduct initial training within their first 90 days, and all other New York employers are subject to the state’s requirement for training to be conducted as soon as practicable after hire. When conducting the training, employees must be provided with a copy of the employer’s sexual harassment prevention policy, training materials, and a notice of employee rights.
Connecticut employers are also required to conduct sexual harassment prevention training, and the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities recently extended that deadline to January 1, 2021. Employers with three or more employees must train all their employees, while the smallest employers need only train those in a supervisory role. Meeting this training obligation will satisfy an employer’s legal requirements for the next ten years as to existing employees, but on an ongoing basis, new hires need to be trained within six months after they are hired.
Employers should review and revise their employee handbook policies on sick and safe leave, harassment prevention, and anti-discrimination, to ensure compliance with recent changes in the law.
- Sick and safe leave
- New York State adopted a state-wide paid sick leave law (in addition to the pandemic-related paid leave law), that requires employers to provide up to seven days of paid sick leave per year, depending on the size of the employer.
- New York City expanded its paid sick leave law to mirror and expand upon the state law provisions. The amendments will require New York City employers to update their paid leave policies to reflect the new updated accrual amounts and eliminate certain eligibility and waiting period requirements, as well as to add “domestic violence” as an additional basis for taking leave.
- While Westchester County has its own paid sick leave law, the county has posted a notice on its website that the state law now governs paid leave and employers should refer to the state law for their rights and obligations. Note that there is no similar notice with regard to the Westchester County paid safe leave law, and employers should therefore assume that the safe leave law’s separate paid leave requirements are still in full force.
- Harassment and discrimination prevention
- Employers in New York State should update their harassment prevention policies to reflect the State Human Rights Law’s new definition of sexual harassment.
- New York State employers must also update their policies to provide employees with appropriate notice of their rights and remedies with regard to reproductive health decisions, including a prohibition against discrimination and retaliation based on an employee’s or an employee’s dependent’s reproductive health decision-making.
3. Notice Requirements
The following payroll and tracking procedures must be put in place, in addition to meeting new notice and posting requirements.
- Payroll and Tracking
- New York State employers must:
- Maintain paid sick leave records for no less than six years; and
- Be prepared to timely provide employees with a summary of the amount of sick leave accrued and used upon request.
- New York City employers must additionally provide:
- Accrual, usage, and paid sick leave balance information to employees each pay period;
- Written notice by January 1, 2021 (see notice link here) of employees’ paid sick leave rights at hire and to current employees of organizations with 100 or more employees, and conspicuously post that notice; and
- Retain compliance records for at least three years.
- Westchester County employers must additionally provide:
- A Notice of Employee Rights and a copy of the County’s Safe Leave Law to all new hires; and
- Display the required Safe Time poster both in English and Spanish, in a conspicuous location.
- New Jersey employers with 10 or more employees must ensure they have:
- Updated their payroll statements to ensure that they each specify: the employee’s gross and net wages; the employee’s rate of pay; and, for hourly employees, the number of hours worked during the pay period.
- Job Protection
- New Jersey employers must have conspicuously posted (as of April 1, 2020), two notices regarding employee misclassification.
- Connecticut employers must provide information on the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to new hires within three months of their start date and send this information to each employee.