As always, a new year brings with it new laws and changes to existing laws, and 2022 is no different. While it is impossible to summarize all of them in a single article, below is a roundup of several key developments that employers should take note of.
NY Minimum Wage Increase
The minimum wage for workers in New York City remains at $15 per hour but in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, the minimum wage increased from $14 to $15 per hour, while the rest of the State saw an increase from $12.50 to $13.20 per hour.
NYC COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate
Pursuant to an emergency order issued by former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio on December 6, 2021, workers must provide proof that they received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by December 27, 2021 in order to enter a workplace located within the City, and they must provide proof of having received a second dose 45 days thereafter (unless vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s single dose vaccine). “Workplace” is broadly defined as any place where work or business is conducted in the presence of another worker or a member of the public. “Worker” includes full-time and part-time employees, contractors and self-employed individuals (i.e. drivers).
There are various exemptions to the order. For example, employees who receive accommodations for documented religious or medical reasons are not required to provide proof of vaccination to work. Similarly, an unvaccinated worker who is working remotely may briefly enter a workplace for a limited purpose (for example, to pick up or drop off paperwork).
Businesses subject to the order are required to keep records confirming their workers have been vaccinated (or been granted an accommodation). Such records may consist of either a photocopy of the worker’s vaccination card, or employers may create their own documents listing the worker’s name and vaccination dates (or alternatively, a record of any religious or medical accommodation granted together with supporting documentation).
Businesses that fail to comply are subject to fines starting at $1,000. It should be noted that this law does not require the termination of workers who fail to provide proof of vaccination; it only requires such individuals be excluded from the workplace.
NYC COVID-19 Child Vaccination Leave
New York State Law already provided employees with up to four hours of paid leave per COVID-19 injection received; up to a total of eight hours of paid leave. Effective December 24, 2021, employers who are parents are entitled to additional paid time off (four hours per injection, per child) to have their kids vaccinated, and to care for them should they experience any side effects. Qualifying children are those under the age of 18, or older children who suffer from mental or physical disabilities. “Parent” includes biological parents, foster parents, stepparents, legal guardians, and those who by assuming and discharging the obligations of a parent stand in “loco parentis” to a child.
Employees may require notice of the employee’s need for leave, and they may likewise require proof that the employee’s child received a COVID-19 vaccine injection. Leave is paid at the employee’s regular rate and cannot be charged against any other accrued leave the employee may be entitled to under City or State paid sick or safe leave laws.
Penalties for non-compliance with this law start at three times the wages the employee was entitled to or $250, whichever is greater. Employees are also entitled to $500 for each instance in which leave was denied or improperly charged against the employee’s accrued leave time.
NYC Pay Transparency Law
It is widely known that white men on average earn more than white women holding the same position, and that whites earn more than their minority counterparts. In an effort to close gender and racial wage gaps, numerous state and local governments have passed pay transparency laws that require employers to inform job candidates the range of pay for a given position upfront. To date, such laws have been enacted in California, Washington, Maryland, Colorado, Nevada, Connecticut, and Toledo and Cincinnati, Ohio. Massachusetts and Rhode Island are in the process of enacting their own pay transparency laws, and so too is the City of New York.
Specifically, on December 15, 2021 the New York City Council approved a bill that, if enacted into law, would make it an unlawful discriminatory practice to not include in job listings the minimum and maximum salary offered for any advertised job, promotion or transfer opportunity within New York City. The law would apply to employers with four or more employees and would impose upon them an obligation to use good faith to determine the minimum and maximum salaries the employer would pay for a given advertised position.
Though not yet signed into law as of the date of this writing, the bill is widely expected to be signed into law by Mayor Eric Adams. If enacted, the law would go into effect 120 days thereafter. While we await the law’s likely enactment, employers should discuss this bill with those responsible for hiring to ensure they are aware of both the requirement that a salary range be provided for any advertised job or promotion, and the need to document the good faith methodology used to arrive at that salary range.