This bill would amend the state's labor law and mandate all employers to provide three months of continuous or intermittent job protected leave to victims of domestic or sexual abuse. The Business Council opposes this bill.
- Chapter 80 of the laws of 2009 created a new protected class under the state's human rights law, victims of domestic violence, and made it unlawful for employers "…to refuse to hire or employ or to bar or to discharge from employment such individual or to discriminate against such individual in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment." We've not heard public dialogue that this change was ineffective with new, expanded, specific time-off mandates now needed because employer's current regular time-off allowances or voluntary informal time-off efforts have been insufficient.
- The additional administrative and employee scheduling work for employers in this bill is enormous and would be on top of existing federal leave mandates under the Family Medical Leave Act. The bill allows for three months of leave each year to be taken continuously or intermittently. Considering the circumstances described in the bill under which an employee could take leave, the vast majority of absences from work will be intermittent. This means if the absence is not a continuous three month period, it could be ninety, single day sporadic absences, or one hundred eighty half-day, intermittent absences or an almost infinite combination of continuous and partial day absences. For employers, especially small employers, just the tracking would require a significant and costly additional level of administration, work rescheduling for fill-ins and additional overtime expense.
- This proposal allows employees and employers to agree on a leave schedule but if an employer doesn't agree to a leave schedule, it will be in violation of section 696-g of the bill, Prohibited Acts, and also subject the employer to section 696-h of the bill…Civil Action.
- The bill provides yet another, new opportunity for employees to sue New York employers under 696-h and if that's not feasible, section 696(h)(2) authorizes the Commissioner to bring a legal action.
- As a practical matter, the new administrative requirements mentioned above render this proposal unmanageable. That's because of the more than 515,000 business establishments in New York State, 460,000 or 88% of them are small businesses employing less than 20 employees, with 497,000 or 95% of them employing less than 50 employees. They simply are not equipped to deal with this potential level of administrative work or litigation. You'll remember that on the federal level over a decade ago, employers of less than 50 employees were excluded by Congress from requirements of the Federal Family Medical Leave act, requiring four months of unpaid leave, for these same, realistic reasons.
- This bill requires the employer to provide free medical insurance coverage while the employee is on leave. This is unprecedented. It then cites a circumstance under which the employer may recover the premiums if the employee doesn't return from leave but only if not returning from leave was beyond the control of the employee, whatever that means. Realistically, once the employee if on leave and off the payroll, the employer will have no means to recover the unpaid insurance premium.
For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and urges the New York State Legislature to vote against enactment.