We are nearing the end of the first quarter of the year, but there is still news to report on changes to New York law taking effect in 2023. This post focuses on laws related to employee time off and absences.
Employers must continue to provide paid leave for COVID-19 vaccinations until the end of this year. In March of 2021, then-Governor Andrew Cuomo first required employers to provide paid time off to employees for the purpose of receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. Originally, this law expired at the end of 2022. Governor Kathy Hochul has now extended the expiration date until December 31, 2023. The paid time off must be at the employee’s regular rate of pay.
Employers should also be aware of a change in New York law impacting absence control policies. Governor Kathy Hochul signed a law amending New York law to prohibit employers from penalizing employees for absences when those absences are legally protected. Under New York law, the definition of employer “retaliation” now includes disciplining employees by assessing points or deductions from a timebank because the employee used legally protected time. The attendance policy itself remains lawful, but employers should review and revise their application of the policy to avoid violations of New York’s revised law.
The penalties for maintaining an absence control policy that violates the law are significant. Employers cannot retaliate or discriminate against any employee who makes a complaint that their employer illegally penalized them pursuant to an absence control policy. The law permits employees to bring a lawsuit to recover monetary damages including back pay, liquidated damages and attorney’s fees. The State can also impose civil penalties in excess of $10,000.00. This change in the law took effect February 20, 2023.
For more information about this change in the law, employers can read the text of the law, S1958A, at https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S1958.