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May 7, 2015 Labor /Human Resources Committee News

An Introduction

Hello everyone. My name is Frank Kerbein. I am the new Director, Center for Human Resources with the Business Council. As many of you know by now, Tom Minnick has retired from the Business Council after 18 years of providing HR advocacy and resources to NY’s business community. A little bit about me: I’m a graduate of Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, SPHR certified, and have 30 years of varied HR experience. For nearly the past 20 years, I have been providing HR consulting services to member companies in employer associations. I look forward to providing high quality, timely HR resources and consulting services to the members of the Business Council. You can reach me at (518) 465-7511 x 201 or frank.kerbein@bcnys.org 

Minimum Wage Developments

In an Op-Ed in the New York Times, Governor Cuomo makes the case for a minimum wage increase for workers in the fast-food industry. The Governor indicates that he will direct the Commissioner of the Department of Labor to impanel a wage board to make recommendations.

“On Thursday (May 7th), I am directing the commissioner to impanel such a board, to examine the minimum wage in the fast-food industry. The board will return in about three months with its recommendations, which do not require legislative approval”

You can read the entire article here.

The Business Council issued an immediate rebuttal:

“While the measure proposed by the governor is allowed under the Labor Law, it has rarely been used and we are concerned that it circumvents the legislature’s long established role in making wage policy in New York,” said Ken Pokalsky, vice president of The Business Council of New York State. “It also raises concerns about other sectors being subject to non-legislative wage mandates. In regions of New York that have yet to reclaim jobs lost in the 2009 recession, artificially inflated wages will not promote job creation. New York needs to focus on policies that enable us to produce real private sector growth.”

Feel free to contact me with any comments or questions

Use of Consumer Credit Reports

On April 16, 2015, the New York City Council overwhelmingly passed an amendment to the City’s Human Rights Law that would bar most city employers from using credit checks as part of their hiring process. You can find text of the law here.

Mayor deBlasio has signed the bill May 6th and it will become law in New York City in 120 days.  The bill does include exemptions for certain professions with a direct relationship between a person’s credit history and his/her fitness or ability to perform the job. Exempted professions include high-level executives who have financial authority over company or third-party funds or assets worth more than $10,000, elected officials, police officers, and workers who are required to have security clearance under federal or state law, such as those having access to intelligence, national security information, or trade secrets. By focusing employer exemptions on particular job duties as opposed to excluding entire industries, such as banks, this bill has broader coverage than similar laws in other jurisdictions.

There is a state-level proposal --  S.1545-A (Klein)/A.2372 (Dinowitz) -- that would prohibit employers from requesting a consumer credit report or using the results of a consumer credit report for employment decision purposes. Its only exclusion is in instances where a credit review is required under federal or state law. The Business Council opposes enactment of this bill.

Also at the state level, there is a new, separate bill (S.4483/A.6405) that would prohibit student loan payment history checks in making employment decisions. I would appreciate member feedback on this proposal.

Frequency of Pay

We are seeking member input on new legislation – S.4815 (DeFrancisco) – that would authorize employers with less than five hundred employees to pay bi-weekly wages. Currently, Section 191 of NYS Labor Law requires that “manual workers” be paid weekly and not less than seven calendar days after the end of the week in which the wages are earned. “Manual worker” is defined as a “mechanic, workingman or laborer.” It has been the long-standing interpretation of the DOL that individuals who spend more than 25 percent of working time engaged in “physical labor” fit within the meaning of the term. “Physical labor” has been interpreted broadly by the DOL to include countless physical tasks performed by employees. This weekly pay mandate is unique to New York, and I’d like to know the Committee’s thoughts on this requirement and the proposed legislation. Please contact me with your feedback.

As always, please feel free to contact me on these or other legislative issues.