BOB CONFER: Things New York Employers Should Know in 2023 | opinion

A the new year is always a transformative time for the human resources function of any organization. It’s the time when employee benefits are renewed, insurance premiums rise, annual terminations are issued and policies are (re)introduced.

It’s also the time when employers should better ensure they comply with laws imposed by the state’s last legislative session or by the executive branch in the second half of last year.

In New York, this can be a daunting task as the state legislature initiates thousands of bills each year. Which ones passed? Which not? Of those that have, what do they mean and when do they come into effect?

Today I’m going to help you navigate those stormy seas and show you some things you need to know.

— Put your work posters online. Each workspace has posters in an employee-conspicuous area, such as the break room, time clock, or laundry room, to share required communications about things like state and federal labor laws. That was always a sufficient means of getting the word out because everyone had worked in traditional jobs. But Covid came and changed that. Now that remote work is so common, many employees working off-site no longer have access to these posters. In response, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation mandating that all employers now supplement physical posters with electronic posters, available either on the employer’s website or via email. Employers must also provide workers with written notice that all notices posted physically are also available electronically.

— Add posters specifically for veterans. While we’re on the subject, be sure to include posters showing veterans how to access federal and state benefits and services, such as more. Hochul signed this law, which applies to employers with 50 or more employees, last Veterans Day. The required poster can be found on the Department of Labor’s website at tinyurl.com/VetsPoster.

— Be prepared to disclose salaries. Last month, the governor signed legislation that says all employers in the state must disclose salary ranges for job postings, whether they are posted outside the organization or posted on the employee bulletin board inside the company. This law, which affects companies with four or more employees, will not come into force until September 17th. But when the time comes, be prepared to state the range of compensation, i.e. minimum and maximum annual salary or hourly rate at the time of the job posting. Be aware that you are not off the hook when you hire someone to work remotely out of state. The law expressly applies to work that can or will be carried out at least partly in the state. This means it affects positions that can be practiced anywhere the employee lives, as the position could be filled by an applicant who lives here and could work remotely in New York. Fines for not complying with this law are hefty: $3,000 per incident.

— These security letters are genuine. Last fall, the state Workers Compensation Ratings Board phased out employer ratings using long-held methods from the National Council on Compensation Insurance and developed its own system for determining experience ratings. This has caused the rating for many employers to rise to a level that pushes them into a different tier of oversight that now requires safety advice from an outside firm, the results of which must be submitted to the Department of Labour. Many companies have received and will continue to receive letters telling them this, even though last year may have been a normal year by their standards, with no injuries or illnesses beyond traditional levels. These surprise letters from the Ratings Board are real, so if you receive one (or anything that looks legit), be sure to contact your workers’ compensation agency.

— Be mindful of your attendance and bonus policies. In November, Hochul signed a law that expanded protections for workers through workplace retaliation and now prohibits an employer from punishing or disciplining a worker who takes time off work for lawful absence. The law goes into effect next month, but before that, employers are better off consulting the state, human resources organizations or lawyers, as long-standing workplace policies may need to be changed. There are a number of concerns that many employers should have. First, the vagueness of “lawful absence” does not clearly define what one is. Second, the law could put the kibosh on points-based attendance or no-fault policies. Third, the law could penalize the deduction from an allotted time for a lawful absence. Finally, as the saying goes, an employee cannot be penalized for a lawful absence when it comes to bonuses, raises, or promotions. There is much to consider and assume about this law; hopefully the Department of Labor will issue guidance in the coming weeks. Keep a close eye on developments with this one.

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