The beginning of a new year is a good time to look over existing policies and practices, starting the year with a “legal checkup” to see if anything needs to be changed.
Get compliant with anti-harassment policies. Both New York State and New York City have adopted extensive regulations about anti-harassment policies and training. Make sure sign-in sheets and other documentation are used. Get your managers up to speed, too—and document it.
Both New York State and New York City have adopted extensive (and expensive) paid-leave laws. The circumstances under which the leave is available are similar to FMLA leave, but more generous. The City’s “Sick/Safe” law includes additional circumstances under which paid leave must be given, designed to protect victims of various sex-abuse-related crimes. Speak to your Workers’ Comp insurance company or your payroll company — or me – to get in compliance.
Get compliant with New York City laws. The salary-history law, the “ban the box” law, and the new Pay [Range] Disclosure law, among others, apply to ALL employers no matter how few employees. There is information at the NYC Dept. of Consumer and Worker Protection (formerly Dept. of Consumer Affairs) website and the NYS Department of Labor website.
Get compliant with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Review the classification of employees that you consider exempt from overtime. Remember that New York State has its own requirements. Review your use of “independent contractors”, to make sure they really are independent contractors and not employees. (Hint: it’s not up to you and your worker.)
Get OSHA compliant. If your work involves hazardous materials or dangerous machinery, check your training records regarding the GHS, Lockout/Tagout, PPE, etc. It is little good to have policies if your employees are not regularly trained and the training records are not maintained.
Review your company’s vacation policy; if it’s not in writing, put it in writing. Make sure it includes clear explanations of accrual, carryover, and forfeiture of vacation. Consider whether a PTO policy would be more efficient than separate Vacation and Sick Days policies.
Update your labor law posters. There are companies that provide all of the required notices in 2 large, laminated posters (1 Federal, 1 State) that you can put up in some prominent spot.
Prepare detailed Job Descriptions. This will tell both you and your employee what is expected from a particular position. It can also help fend off ADA claims.
Review your use of confidentiality agreements. First, consider whether the Defend Trade Secrets Act can help you. Second, make sure you don’t restrict every employee to the same degree—courts routinely reject the “one-size-fits-all” approach.
Prepare a list of items that must be returned (keys, tools, cell phones, etc.) when an employee leaves. Remind departing employees who have signed Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure Agreements (“NDAs”) what the terms of their agreement are. Consider using a formal “Exit Interview”.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me. TMF