Now that the champagne corks have been popped and 2022 is underway, employers in New York State need to be aware of some recent developments that will likely affect them in the new year. Below are some highlights on which employers should pay particular attention.
I. INCREASES TO MINIMUM WAGE AND EXEMPT EMPLOYEE SALARY THRESHOLDS - Effective December 31, 2021
- Statewide minimum wage increased to $13.20 per hour;
- Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties - minimum wage is now $15.00 per hour, matching the current minimum wage in New York City;
- Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties - the minimum salary threshold for exempt employees has increased to $1,125 per week ($58,500 per year). All exempt employees in these three counties must be paid at least the minimum threshold;
- For the remainder of New York State (except New York City), the minimum salary threshold for exempt employees is $990 per week ($51,480 per year); and
- As in the past, employers are required to post minimum wage information conspicuously in the workplace.
II. AMENDMENTS TO NEW YORK PAID FAMILY LEAVE - Effective January 1, 2022
Recent amendments clarify the use of intermittent Paid Family Leave (PFL):
- Intermittent PFL was previously capped at 60 days;
- Now, the maximum number of intermittent PFL days an employee may take is based on the average number of days the employee works per week;
- The 60 day cap has been removed, and additional days of intermittent PFL may be available to employees who work an average of more than five (5) days per week; and
- PFL has also been amended to expand the definition of "family member" to include siblings - Effective January 1, 2023
In addition, the new maximum weekly benefit for PFL for 2022 is $1,068.36.
III. NEW YORK HERO ACT
The HERO Act, enacted in May 2021, requires employers to create and maintain a written airborne infectious disease exposure plan (the "Plan"). The Plan must be part of the employer's Employee Handbook, and must be implemented upon the designation by the State of a highly contagious communicable disease that prevents a serious risk of harm to public health. As of this writing, COVID-19 has been designated as such through January 15, 2022. It is anticipated that the designation will be extended further, given the proliferation of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
In addition, the HERO Act requires employers in the State with 10 or more employees to allow employees to form a "workplace safety committee" to review policies and procedures relating to workplace health and safety. A proposed rule setting forth details regarding this requirement was released on December 22, 2021, with a public hearing on the proposal scheduled on February 9, 2022. Until then, the proposed rule will not yet take effect.
IV. COVID-19 VACCINATION LEAVE
Beginning in March 2021, New York employers were required to provide employees up to four hours of paid leave for each COVID-19 vaccination, including booster shots. This requirement continues for the duration of 2022.
V. EMPLOYEE WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS EXPANDED - Effective January 26, 2022
This new law expands protections for employees who report suspected wrongdoing on the part of their employer, which was previously limited to claims of health care fraud and the reporting of health and safety concerns. Employers are also required to post a notice regarding employees' rights regarding whistleblowing.
COMING SOON: We will be posting a blog shortly with more details on employee whistleblower protections.
VI. EMPLOYERS IN NEW YORK CITY
In addition to those noted above, New York City employers are subject to some additional requirements, including those relating to paid COVID-19 vaccination leave for children of employees, COVID-19 vaccination mandates for private employers and requirements regarding salary information in job postings.
VII. WHAT DO I DO NOW?
Review your employee handbooks to ensure that they are up to date, and that your company's policies and procedures reflect the most recent requirements. We are here to help with this process in any way we can.
For more information on Employment Law developments, policies and procedures or related issues, contact Ron Rolleri at email@example.com.