What? Another major New York City employment law change? The “Temporary Schedule Change” law–effective July 18–is a big one, folks, and every NYC business owner should know what it’s about!
The law requires employees to request two alternate work situations (“temporary schedule changes”) per calendar year for certain qualifying “personal events.” These situations can include temporary changes in hours & work location and also short-term unpaid leave and time off with pay. The law covers one business day of temporary schedule change per request. If an employee uses two business days for one request, then that is the equivalent of the employer fulfilling both requests for the year.
As a reminder, the New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA), effective as of this May, outlined an expanded list of life events qualifying employees for time off. It’s a lot more than simply a major illness of the employee–and has been extended to events a person in the employee’s care may also be experiencing. In addition to addressing physical or mental illnesses, an employee can qualify for a temporary schedule change if they or their family member has been the victim of domestic or sexual abuse, stalking or human trafficking.
Now, what obligations do you as an employer have per this new law? You have to respond to an employee’s written request for a temporary schedule change within 14 days, and indicate whether you’ve accepted the request, will accept a modified version of it (say, unpaid vs. paid leave), or have denied it.
If you reject the request, you need to be able to back this decision up with specific examples from the laws. If your employee has used already both of their allotted requests earlier in the year, you can, of course, turn this new request down.
The biggest takeaway here you should be aware of is this: an employee under the Temporary Schedule Change law does NOT need to exhaust his paid sick time earned from ESSTA. And granting an employee sick time hours for Temporary Schedule Change does NOT count towards an employer’s responsibility to grant hours through ESSTA. So it’s very important to keep those two things straight:
- Under ESSTA, employees accrue sick leave one hour for every 30 hours worked, with a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year.
- Under Temporary Schedule Change, all employees (outside the motion picture industry) who have worked for an employer for 120 days and have completed 80 hours of work in NYC qualify for two business days a year of requested work leave/change. This is INDEPENDENT of hours gained through ESSTA.
The employer penalty for failure to comply with this new law is $500 per violation. Obviously, as more and more of these new laws get added to the books, it can get pretty confusing. There are excellent highly-detailed looks at Temporary Schedule Change at the employment law blogs Littler, Ogletree Deakins, and Mintz Levin. Beyond this, we highly recommend you consult the New York Department of Labor and/or a lawyer to make sure you are in compliance.