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Personal Events Must Soon Be Accommodated by New York City Employers

I had previously blogged that on December 6, 2017, The New York City Council passed the “Fair Workweek Law” which protects employees who seek temporary changes to work schedules for personal events. It went into effect on January 1, 2018. That law provides that New York City employees could request temporary schedule changes twice per calendar year, without retaliation, in certain situations, e.g., caregiver emergency, attendance at a legal proceeding involving subsistence benefits, or safe or sick time under the New York City administrative code. Procedures are established for employees to request temporary work schedule changes and employer responses. Not all employees are protected by the Fair Workweek Law. As of January 1, 2018, if the employees were covered by a collective bargaining agreement; or were employed for fewer than 120 days; or worked less than 80 hours in the city in a calendar year; or work in the theater, film, or television industries, then they could not avail themselves of the protections of Fair Workweek Law.

Come July 18, 2018, when an amendment to the Fair Workweek Law will take effect, all New York City employers with a few exceptions will be required to accommodate “personal events.” Also, New York City employers will be required to grant employees two temporary changes to their work schedule when those requests relate to (1) the need for a caregiver to provide care to a minor child or a care recipient; (2) an employee’s need to attend a legal proceeding or hearing for subsistence benefits to which the employee, a family member or the employee’s care recipient is a party; or (3) any reason that is permitted under the New York Earned Sick and Safe Time Act (ESTA). These three reasons are referred to as a “personal event.”

Employees may receive the temporary schedule change for up to one business day per request. An employer may accommodate an employee’s request for a schedule change through paid time off, working remotely, swapping or changing work hours, and using unpaid leave.

Retribution against employees availing themselves of the law’s protections is strictly prohibited.

It’s too soon to say what problems may arise in enforcing and implementing this law, since there are no agency decisions or court orders adjudicating disputes arising under this new law yet.

Stay tuned.

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