NYC Fair Workweek Update: Mandatory Poster & Time Off for Personal Events

NYC New York City

On July 18th, 2018, new provisions came into effect for New York City’s Fair Workweek Law. These new rules affect both employers and employees and require that employers of fast food or retail chains take immediate action to remain compliant.

If you’d like a refresher, our blog post summarizes the Fair Workweek law. For businesses that are already aware of the Fair Workweek Law and just want the update, we’ve highlighted the new provisions below:

  1. There is a new poster, “Temporary Schedule Change Law: Frequently Asked Questions,” that Fair Workweek-governed businesses must post.
  2. Employees are granted two temporary schedule changes per year for “personal events.” These “personal events” include when an employee requests a schedule change for:

“Care for a minor child for whom the employee provides direct and ongoing care.

Care for an individual (“care recipient”) with a disability for whom the employee provides direct and ongoing care to meet the needs of daily living and who is a family member or who resides in the caregiver’s household.

Attend a legal proceeding or hearing for public benefits for the employee, a family member, or the employee’s minor child or care recipient.

Use leave for any acceptable reason identified under New York City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law

What Qualifies as a “Personal Event” in Fair Workweek

A “temporary schedule change” is defined as “any change involving the hours, times, or locations an employee is expected to work.” The change can be accommodated by using short-term unpaid leave, paid time off, working remotely, or swapping working hours with a coworker. Employees may submit their preferred method of change to their hours but employers are not required to grant their request in the specific method that the employee request.

Requesting Time Off as a Personal Event in NYC

Employees must submit a written request with the above information within two business days upon their return to work.

Employees should submit their request either in writing or orally with the following information:

  • The date of the temporary schedule change
  • An indication that the change is due to a personal event
  • The proposed type of temporary change, such as using unpaid time off, a schedule swap, or a change in work hours

Example of a written request for a temporary schedule change:

“Hi Diana, my daughter is sick with the chicken pox right now and is not supposed to be going into school. I need to to take my Friday morning (July 21st, 11 am) shift off to watch her. I will be available to work Sunday morning and would prefer to swap shifts with another coworker if possible. If necessary, I’ll use one of my “personal events” schedule changes. Please let me know ASAP.

Because the employer does not need to change the shift in the manner specified by the employee, the employee in this example may simply be given unpaid leave instead of being allowed to swap shifts with a coworker.

Employees Don’t Need Proof of Personal Events

Employees are not required by the law to provide proof of their personal event – a doctor’s note, court records, etc. However, employees are required to disclose the nature of their personal event and can be disciplined by their employer if the employer finds that these claims were not true.

NYC fast food and retail employers are only required to accommodate two days of schedule changes per year. If an employee was supposed to work over the weekend, but requests the weekend off to take care of their child, this request could be accommodated by an employer and fulfill their yearly requirement for “personal events.” In other words, one request for a temporary schedule change can eat up both days.

Any schedule changes that count towards the 2 days for personal events must be requested by the employee. An employer can not give an employee a second day off (or additional schedule change) to try and fulfill their two-day requirement.

Fines for Retail and Fast Food Employers

For employees that violate this law, New York’s Office of Labor and Policy Standards may impose fines of:

  • $500 for a first violation
  • Up to $750 for a second violation within a two-year period
  • Up to $1,000 for subsequent violations within a two-year period
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