New York State – WTPA Notices

This is a friendly reminder to clients employing workers in New York that they need to comply with the annual pay notice requirement of the state’s Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) by February 1, 2014. As with previous years, the WTPA requires employers to provide each of their New York workers (including typically exempt or salaried employees like executives, managers and supervisors) with an annual Notice of Pay Rate between January 1 and February 1 of each year. Pepper routinely counsels many New York employers with WTPA compliance and provides to clients, free of charge, customized form notices in English and Spanish. You can find out more about the WTPA by reviewing our previous Client Alert on the subject.

New York City employers should also be aware of two new local laws set to take effect this year. Each is described below.

New York City – Pregnancy Accommodations

On January 30, 2014, a new amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law now essentially requires employers in New York City to provide pregnant employees with reasonable accommodations in the same manner as a “disability.” This departure from federal and state disability laws commands companies to reasonably accommodate pregnancies, childbirth, and related medical conditions, unless it can be proven that the requested accommodation would cause an undue hardship.

The new legislation also obligates employers to provide express notice of this right to new employees upon hire and to existing employees within 120 days of the effective date (or by May 30, 2014, give or take a few days). The New York City Commission on Human Rights has issued a form notice employers can use for purposes of giving notice in multiple languages. You may download the form at http://www.nyc.gov/html/cchr/html/publications/pregnancy-employment-poster.shtml.

New York City – Earned Sick Time Act Leave

Effective April 1, 2014, New York City employers will also need to comply with the new Earned Sick Time Act (ESTA), which allows employees in New York City to earn a minimum amount of paid sick time from businesses that employ at least 20 employees. All other smaller employers are also covered by ESTA, except that they need to only provide unpaid leave to their workers. Employers that already have a paid or unpaid time off policy (i.e., vacation, personal days, sick days, etc.) that is as generous or more generous than the benefits provided for in ESTA are not required to provide additional sick time pursuant to this new law in certain situations. The requirements of this new entitlement are comprehensive and are expected to affect a significant number of city employers, even those who already provide the minimum requirement of five days of paid or unpaid sick time.

All employers in New York City should review their leave policies to comply with this new law and confirm that their provisions dealing with sick leave accrual ratios, unlimited carry-over, make-up shifts, doctor’s note requests, and other provisions are in compliance with the new law.

As with the pregnancy accommodation law, New York City employers are required to inform all new hires of their right to paid or unpaid sick leave. The individual notice, which must be provided in the employee’s primary language, must disclose that an employer cannot retaliate for using sick leave and that they have a right to file a complaint with the agency tasked with the enforcement of the new statute. Failure to give the required notice can result in civil fines of $50 per employee.