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NYC Earned Safe and Sick Time Act Rules Amended

On October 15, 2023, the amended rules for the New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA) take effect. They include compliance obligation clarifications and legal changes, such as:

  • Determination of employer-size. Employers must count their total number of employees nationwide, not only in the city, to determine if they’re covered by the ESSTA. They must count their highest total number of employees concurrently employed at any time during the calendar year and include all full- and part-time employees, those who are jointly employed, and those on leave or a temporary absence.
  • Definition of an “employee for hire within NYC.” An employee is “employed for hire within NYC” if they perform work (including telework) while they are physically in the city and regardless of where the employer is located. However, the requirement that an employee must work more than 80 hours per calendar year in New York City to be covered by ESSTA was removed.
  • Elimination of the waiting period. The 120-day waiting period to use safe/sick time was removed.

The amended rules are vast and impact most of the ESSTA. The city released additional detailed, updated guidance on its NYC’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law website to assist employers in their compliance efforts.

Action Items

  • Employers should update their paid sick leave policies to include these updates
  • Provide employees with the policy.
  • Notify those who administer or approve leave requests about the changes.

New York Limits Captive Audience Meetings

New York recently joined the ranks of a handful of other states that limit certain mandatory employer-sponsored meetings and communications. As of September 6, 2023, employers can’t refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against an employee because they refuse to attend an employer-sponsored meeting, listen to speech, or view communications if the primary purpose is to express the employer’s religious or political opinion.

This law defines matters as religious if they relate to religious affiliation and practice as well as the decision to join or support any religious organization or association. Matters are considered political if they relate to any of the following:

  • Elections for political office
  • Political parties
  • Legislation or regulation
  • The decision to join or support any political party or political, civic, community, fraternal, or labor organization

Notably, this law prevents employers from coercing employees to attend “captive audience meetings,” where the employer presents their views on unionization or labor organizing.

The law contains several exceptions. It doesn’t apply to meetings or communications that are only for managers and supervisors. It also doesn’t apply to legally required communications, those necessary for employees to perform their job duties, and voluntary casual conversations. For employers in higher education, it doesn’t prohibit meetings or communications that are part of coursework or an academic program. Finally, the ban on religious communications doesn’t apply to religious organizations.

Notice

Employers are required to post a notice to employees about these rights in the workplace where notices to employees are typically posted.

Action Items

  • Allow employees to opt out of any meeting or communication covered by this law.

Post the required notice where other employee notices are displayed (the state may or may not provide a template notice in the future).

HR Services Team
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