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A Return to Work Roadmap for New York Employers

After weeks or months of remote work or closed operations, businesses are understandably eager to resume normal operations and bring employees back to the workplace. Employers must be mindful, however, of currently proliferating federal, state and local requirements governing the return to onsite work regarding safety, accommodations, leaves of absence and various benefits that are available to employees. This article reviews some of the many issues that New York employers must address as they continue essential operations and prepare to return to the workplace.

COVID-19 and New York: Refresher on Article 23-A and Equal Opportunities for Newly Released Offenders

As New York State reportedly is releasing additional nonviolent offenders, coinciding with the rise of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, and newly released individuals apply for positions, New York employers should remember that “conviction status” is protected under New York’s Human Rights Law.

An Unemployment Insurance Roadmap for New York Employers

During the current COVID-19 crisis, over one million New Yorkers have applied for unemployment insurance (UI) and New York State has paid out over $7 billion in benefits. Despite these numbers, many employers do not understand the ins and outs of UI. Because of the COVID-19 UI enhancements, UI can be beneficial to both employers and employees.

New York State Nursing Home, Adult Care Facility Staff Testing, Certification of COVID-19 Compliance

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 202.30 (EO 202.30) implements significant changes for nursing homes (NHs) and adult care facilities (ACFs) in the state, including the testing of all personnel for COVID-19 twice a week.

New York City Human Rights Law Ban On Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Takes Effect

The New York City Commission on Human Rights issued a written reminder on May 8, 2020 that the law prohibiting pre-employment marijuana testing is effective on May 10, 2020. In addition, the Commission stated that it is finalizing rules that will expand the list of exceptions to the law. The Commission’s statement provided:

New York State Enacts State-Wide Paid Sick Leave Law

New York State has joined the growing list of states and localities (including New York City and Westchester County) mandating that employers provide paid sick leave to employees.

Suffolk County, NY Enacts “Ban-the-Box” Law Restricting Use of Criminal History in Pre-Hire Process

Effective August 25, 2020, Suffolk County will join a growing number of New York jurisdictions, including New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, and Westchester County, in restricting the use of pre-employment inquiries into an applicant’s criminal conviction history, adding to the existing statewide requirements of Article 23-A of the New York State Correction Law. In addition, Suffolk County will join dozens of other states, counties, and municipalities that restrict consideration of an applicant’s criminal history at the initial application phase.

Suffolk County, New York, Follows ‘Ban the Box’ Trend

The Suffolk County, New York, Legislature has passed the “Fair Employment Screening Amendment” to the Suffolk County Code, prohibiting the County or any other employer having at least 15 employees from asking job applicants about their prior criminal convictions until after the first interview. The Amendment will go into effect on August 25, 2020, and will not apply retroactively.

Amendments to NYC Law Would Codify the ABC Test

Wrapped up in the New York City Council’s sweeping new legislative package, dubbed the “NYC Essential Workers Bill of Rights,” is Introductory Bill No. 1926 (Int. No. 1926). Int. No. 1926 would expand New York City’s Earned Sick and Safe Time Act (ESSTA) to cover many workers currently classified as independent contractors by introducing the so-called “ABC” test for determining who is an independent contractor and thus excluded from ESSTA coverage. The “ABC” test for determining independent contractor status is much more restrictive than the common law test traditionally used in New York, and therefore results in fewer workers being classified as contractors, and more classified as employees.

New York City Issues Order to Facilitate Employees Affected by COVID-19 to Qualify For Paid Sick Leave

On April 19, 2020, the New York City Commissioner for Health and Mental Hygiene signed an Order to compel persons who self-identify as requiring mandatory isolation due to COVID-19 to isolate in their home or another appropriate location. The Order enables these individuals to qualify for immediate paid time off under the New York State’s COVID-19 Quarantine/Isolation Order Law (the “Law”). The Commissioner has released a series of Frequently Asked Questions, dated April 23, 2020, concerning the Order.
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