NY Now Requires Electronic Distribution of Mandatory Workplace Posters
Effective December 16, 2022, Labor Law Section 201 was amended to require New York employers to provide employee rights notices electronically. Traditionally, employers satisfied their workplace notice posting requirements by physically posting government-issued posters in the workplace, often on bulletin boards or pre-printed posters. However, with this amendment of the Labor Law, employers are now required to provide these notices either by email or through the employer’s website, in addition to continuing to post the notices in any physical work location. Employers are also required to notify employees that the employee workplace notices are available electronically.
This change to Section 201 of the Labor Law was sloppy, creating a number of practical challenges for already over-regulated New York employers. For example, for employers who do not maintain a website or who do not communicate with employees through email, does the law require them to now create an electronic communication system with those employees? The law specifically states that digital copies of the notices must be provided on a website or email, seemingly prohibiting the distribution of these notices via text messages.
Separately, the law amended a New York Labor Law section discussing notices required by the New York Commissioner of Labor, thereby suggesting that only those notices required by the State’s Commissioner of Labor would have to be electronically distributed. However, the new language in the law states that “all other documents required to be physically posted at a worksite pursuant to a state or federal law or regulation” must also be made electronically available. This language seems to suggest that non-employment posters and/or those issued by the federal government would also be subject to this new electronic distribution requirement.
Lastly, while the law is effective immediately, it is not clear whether employers are required to implement this law for their current staff, or only apply the new requirements to new hires. If it is the former, the new law creates a time-sensitive urgency for employers to act.
We will be reaching out to the Department of Labor to clarify these requirements. In the meantime, employers should start considering how to comply with the new law, which is in effect. For some employers, the law’s requirement of distributing workplace notices electronically will be simple to administer. However, for other employers, such as those in the home care industry, the requirement may prove difficult to effectuate. Failure to satisfy the electronic notice posting requirement could result in monetary fines. In addition, non-compliance could be used as evidence against an employer in connection with allegations of other workplace violations.
NY DOL will Soon Issue New Requirements for Employers’ Mandatory Sexual Harassment Policies
The New York Department of Labor announced that it will release an updated Sexual Harassment Prevention Model Policy “following a comprehensive effort to gather and review recommendations from stakeholders, including businesses around the State. Also according to the State, key updates to the new policy include:”
· More plain language, less legal jargon to make it easier to understand
· Updates to address sexual harassment of remote workers
· Updates to define different gender identities and emphasizing that gender discrimination is sexual harassment
· Additional examples of sexual harassment to account for a broader array of work experiences (i.e., service industries, remote work)
Following the release of the policy, the DOL will begin a comment period.
New York employers will be required to adopt the new model policy once it is issued and replace the current policy they are utilizing OR update their currently policy to incorporate the newly required language.
We will monitor this issue and, once the new policy language is issued, work with clients to update their harassment policies and training program to correspond to the new policy requirements.