2019 Brings Significant New Obligations For New York Employers - Is Your Business Ready?

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As we enter 2019, employers throughout New York must start preparing to comply with several new obligations going into effect this year at the state and local level. 

 Sexual Harassment Training

 As we previously posted, both New York State and New York City significantly expanded their sexual harassment laws in 2018. Among other changes, both of those laws require employers to provide sexual harassment training in 2019.

Under the State law, every employer in New York must provide sexual harassment training to all of its New York employees by October 9, 2019, and provide yearly training thereafter. The State issued frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the law, which can be found here.

 The City's training requirements apply to employers with 15 or more employees and impose broader training obligations than the State counterpart. Employers subject to the New York City requirements must provide yearly training to all employees beginning on April 1, 2019. The City's FAQs can be found here.

 Westchester County Paid Sick Leave Law

 Employers in Westchester County will have to start complying with the County's Earned Sick Leave Law, beginning on March 30, 2019. Once the law becomes effective, employees in Westchester will be eligible to accrue up to 40 hours of sick leave each year at a rate of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. As with other paid sick leave laws, employers can satisfy their obligations through the use of a paid time off (PTO) policy that provides employees with at least as much PTO as they would earn under the Earned Sick Leave Law.

 New York City Lactation Law

 New York City has also enacted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which requires employers in New York City with 4 or more employees to provide a designated "Lactation Room" for nursing mothers and adopted a lactation room accommodation policy. The policy must address specific matters, such as how employees request a lactation room. The policy must be distributed to all new hires and employers must post written notice of employee rights under the PWFA.

Under the PWFA, a Lactation Room is "a sanitary place, other than a restroom, that can be used to express milk shielded from view and free from intrusion and that includes at minimum an electrical outlet, a chair, a surface on which to place a breast pump and other personal items, and nearby access to running water." The lactation room must be in reasonable proximity to the employee's work area and the employer must provide "a refrigerator suitable for breast milk storage in reasonable proximity to such employee's work area." The obligations under the PWFA become effective March 18, 2019.

 The deadlines to comply with these obligations are approaching fast. Employers in New York should immediately start updating their policies and HR practices to ensure compliance with these laws.

 f you have questions about your business's employment law obligations, please contact us at (201) 345-5412 / (646) 503-5358 or through our online calendar to schedule a complimentary consultation.