Legal Analysts

Showing posts with label new york state labor law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new york state labor law. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

NYS Adopts Sick Leave Rules & Leave Many Employers with Questions

New York State has adopted Sick Leave requirements for employers to follow under NY Labor Law § 196-b. With the new rule having become effective on 12/22/21, employers and their HR teams need to get up to speed quickly. 

The new rule requires employers of 3 different categorical sizes to provide a minimum number of paid sick leave hours for employees depending on the size of the employer and its net income. 

The rule does the following:

  • Establishes standards of how employees shall accrue sick leave at a rate of no less than 1 hour per every 30 hours worked; 
  • Protects employees from having to disclose confidential health information to employers as a condition to taking sick leave; 
  • Sets up conditions for employees carrying over unused sick leave over to the following calendar year; 
  • Creates protections to prevent employers from retaliating/discriminating against employees for exercising his/her sick leave rights; 
  • Requires employers to provide written records of sick leave accrual upon employee request; 
  • Requires that employees returning from sick leave be restored to their position prior to the sick leave with the same pay & other terms / conditions of employment; & 
  • Allows for collective bargaining agreements to be entered into that provides for paid sick leave. 

Before the rule became effective, employers commented and expressed their concerns, under the regulatory process, and the government's responses have clarified the following facts:

  • Newer employees will abuse sick leave because the rules allow employees to immediately use sick leave upon accrual; 
  • Carrying over unused sick leave days to following years is problematic (per DOL, employers may either: (1) give employees the option to voluntarily elect to use & receive payment for paid sick leave prior to the end of a calendar year or carry over unused sick leave; or (2) only allow employees to carry over unused sick leave);
  • Conflicts can arise between sick leave requirements and other leave policies if not clarified in the employer's policy manual;
  • Employee abuse systems need to be in place within an employer's policy manual or issues will arise; and
  • Collective bargaining agreements need to be addressed to comply with the new rule.

This new sick leave rule will continue to raise concerns by employers and employees, but proactive employees with great policy manuals / collective bargaining agreements, which have been updated to reflect the new rule will win the day. Otherwise, there are going to be a lot of discrimination and retaliation claims when sick leave issues arise. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

DOL Provides Guidance On Cannabis Use in the Workplace

Upon the legalization of cannabis in New York State, Section 201-D of the New York Labor Law ("Discrimination against the engagement in certain activities") was amended to prohibit employers from discriminating against employees for using cannabis outside of the workplace on their own time. 

The Department of Labor ("DOL") recently issued guidance (in the form of frequently asked questions) regarding certain elements of the law:

  1. Employee Discipline: While employers may not discipline employees for using cannabis while off-duty and off-premises, employers may take action against employees who "manifest specific articulable symptoms of impairment" on the job. The DOL guidance defines "articulable symptoms of impairment" as "objectively observable indications that the employee's performance of the duties of the position are decreased or lessened." For example: operating heavy machinery in a reckless manner would likely qualify. The DOL further specified that the following are not, without more, "articulable symptoms of impairment": 
    • positive test for cannabis;
    • odor of cannabis; and/or
    • other typical observable signs of cannabis use.
  2. Use at Work: Employers may prohibit cannabis use and possession during all work hours which include breaks and meals periods, even if the employee leaves the worksite, and when an employee is "on-call."
  3. Drug Testing: Employers may not test employees for cannabis outside of the following circumstances:
    • It is required by state or federal law for a particular position;
    • The employer would lose a federal contract or federal funding; or
    • The employee manifests "specific articulable symptoms of impairment" (although an employer may not discipline an employee based solely on a positive test, as stated above).  
Does this guidance provide clarity or just create more questions? In which of these areas do you foresee litigation?