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COVID Vaccination Leave

December 2023

New York State will end the four-hour vaccination leave payment for employees effective December 31, 2023.  Employers must continue to provide paid leaves of absence for “sufficient periods of time, not to exceed four hours per vaccine injection.”

As of this date, NYS COVID sick pay for those with the virus remains for employers. Sick time depends on employer size and annual income.

 

CTA: NYS COVID regulations can feel like a fine line between compliance and failure. Don’t let your employees get caught in the middle. Reach out to Ethan Allen today for guidance.

New York State Pay Transparency Law (FARE Grant)

New York State Pay Transparency Law (FARE Grant)

November 2023

Effective September 17, 2023, the New York State Pay Transparency Law requires all employers to disclose compensation or list salary ranges for all postings for jobs within New York State.

  • The range should show the minimum and maximum annual salary or hourly rates that the employer believes in good faith to be accurate at the time of posting.
  • This includes all internal and external job postings, job descriptions, promotions, and transfers for jobs that can or will be performed in the State of New York, and jobs that report to a manager located in New York.
  • The purpose of this law is to empower job seekers with this information up-front and to address systemic pay inequity and discriminatory wage-setting and hiring practices.

 

CTA: When it comes to workers’ rights, knowledge is power. Don’t be negligent in holding your workforce back. Discover the intricacies of the FARE Grant with Ethan Allen.

Federal PUMP Act

Federal PUMP Act

October 2023

The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act) was signed into law on December 29, 2022.

  • This right is available for up to one year after the child’s birth.
  • Employees using break time at work to express milk must be completely relieved from their duty during that time or must be paid for the break time. For those paid, employees must be compensated in the same way that other employees are compensated for break time.
  • The law also makes it possible for an employee to file a lawsuit against an employer that violates the law.
  • Undue Hardship Exemption – an employer that employs fewer than 50 employees is not required to provide break time and space only if it would impose undue hardship.

 

Is your Hudson Valley business in compliance with the PUMP Act? Wondering where to start? Reach out to Ethan Allen today.

The Dangers of a Toxic Workplace Culture

September 2023

Workers are no longer tolerating workplace cultures that do not provide opportunities for growth. Toxic workplaces can mean workplaces that tolerate harassment and bullying, engage in unethical practices, or are dishonest with employees. More broadly, toxic workplaces often fail to reward exceptional performance, deny employees a voice, and cultivate a culture of blame. These types of workplaces will be more susceptible to EEOC claims and lawsuits. It is up to leadership, usually with the help of HR, to actively cultivate an inclusive workplace climate.  It is up to you to steer your workplace climate in the direction that you want. Start by increasing employee input, perhaps by conducting a climate survey. Empowering the employee voice is critical. Without knowing what is or isn’t working, leadership won’t be able to achieve real change.

Ready to find better ways to support a healthy, inviting company culture?  Ethan Allen can offer support and expert advice to keep your team on the right track. Simply take a look at our services today.

Workplace Flexibility and Employee Retention

August 2023

Workplace flexibility has been found to be key to employee retention. This goes beyond allowing employees to work remotely, and also includes flexibility for start and end times, or even exploring the option of a four-day work week (the UK has found remarkable success with this). In a tight labor market, companies cannot afford to ignore the value employees place on having flexible work options, and leadership can’t dismiss the bottom-line impact offering flexibility has on employee productivity and retention rates. Many companies are finding this out the hard way. Companies that are requiring employees to return to the office full-time after allowing remote work during the pandemic without providing a clear business reason for the policy change are losing employees to their competitors. Employers should focus on an employee’s outcome and productivity, not time in the office, and hold all employees accountable to the same standards. In this way, employers can focus on making sure their employees have the tools to succeed and place less focus on hours spent at the worksite.

Trying to decipher if you can offer your team more flexible options?  With Ethan Allen, you can prepare for any HR need. Simply take a look at our services today.

New York’s Revised Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy

July 2023

New York requires all employers to provide Sexual Harassment Prevention training to all employees on an annual basis, as well as provide a sexual harassment prevention policy to all employees in writing. In 2019, NY changed the standard of conduct that constitutes harassment to “inferior terms, conditions, and privileges of employment,” reducing the previous standard, which was conduct that was “severe or pervasive,” or an environment that was considered “hostile or abusive.” The new proposal places additional emphasis on gender diversity, including non-binary persons and transgender persons. There are additional examples of sex stereotyping, such as asking a woman to serve meeting refreshments when it is not part of, or appropriate to, her job duties, and specifically prohibits dress codes that place more emphasis on women’s attire. The state has proposed adding a new section on bystander intervention that includes five “standard methods” for intervention. Additionally, there is an increased focus on the special responsibilities that supervisors and managers have regarding harassment in the workplace. These changes are still in the proposal stage; watch for these changes to become official and be prepared to update your sexual harassment policy to stay in compliance, and make sure the training provided to employees meets the new standards.

Looking to stay up to date on New York laws for your business? From prevention training to safety & risk management, there are many advantages to working with Ethan Allen. Learn more!

Diversity and Inclusion

June 2023

A diverse and inclusive workplace is one that makes everyone feel equally involved in and supported in all areas of the workplace, regardless of who they are or their position in the company. Beyond being a trending topic right now, organizations that embrace diversity and inclusion initiatives have higher revenue growth, greater readiness to innovate, increased ability to recruit a diverse talent pool, and higher employee retention. It’s important for your workforce to reflect the customers or clients that you serve – consumers are paying attention to the organizations that they choose to do business with, and potential talent is absolutely checking out an organization’s diversity and inclusion policy before deciding whether or not to apply. A great starting place for a D&I Initiative is to start with unconscious bias training. Also check on your practices for hiring, promotions, and annual assessments – make sure that there are clear processes in place in order to reduce the opportunity for unconscious bias to creep into the process.

D&I initiatives are foundational to your business. From setting up the right benefits to implementing the right HR technology so your people are valued and heard, take a look at Ethan Allen’s services.

Helping Your Managers Succeed

May 2023

The number one reason employees leave their jobs is to get away from poor leadership. As an organization, it’s in your best interest to make sure your managers are treating employees fairly, equitably, and consistently, by setting up clear and measurable expectations – these are some of the top traits of managers that employees look up to. Great managers will get the best work from their employees, which translates to higher productivity and higher profits. Being consistent is key: managers should apply the rules fairly and should be clear about what the rules and expectations are. Great managers will know what their employees’ long-term goals are, so that if an opportunity for a stretch assignment or a promotion comes up, they will know who has the strengths and interests to pursue those opportunities. They will get to know their employees so that they understand their unique strengths and weaknesses and can assign tasks appropriately. They will build a sense of trust among their employees to help them do their best work, which eliminates the need to micro-manage employees. It’s in an organization’s best interest to provide their managers with appropriate training and set them up for success – and listen to employees when they come forward with concerns or complaints about their managers.

The right leadership is key to retaining top talent. From finding the right hires to having the right tools to support your team for the long haul, take a look at the services.

Retaliation Claims

April 2023

Retaliation is the most common type of claim filed with the EEOC. If an employee comes forward with a discrimination claim, even if the underlying claim is never proved, retaliating against the employee can land employers in court. It’s important to train supervisors on what constitutes retaliation. Moving someone to another location or shift could be considered retaliatory, even if the manager is doing so for well-intentioned reasons, such as separating the complainant from the alleged perpetrator. Supervisors should be trained to consistently apply and enforce a company’s employment policies and should understand the process for handling complaints. Consistency is key – failing to apply policies consistently can lead to perceptions of unfairness or retaliation. When an employee raises a complaint about discrimination or harassment, it’s still ok to discipline those employees for legitimate reasons, but employers should proceed with caution to avoid any perception of retaliation.

A safe workplace is your top priority – is your risk management program up to par? With Ethan Allen, your team can be prepared for any HR need. Simply take a look at our services today.

Company Culture

March 2023

Building an engaged and inclusive workplace can positively impact employee retention and productivity, which can have a big impact on a company’s bottom line. Poor work culture is a big factor in why employees leave organizations or are not fully engaged when they do stay. It is up to leadership to build a foundation for the company culture that starts by defining the company values. The values should outline how the company wants to treat its employees, how the company should be perceived by clients and customers, and how employees are expected to represent themselves. Let employees contribute to defining the company values and co-create a positive workplace climate where everyone can be heard and valued. Communicate clearly what the company’s mission is and how each employee’s contribution to the workplace can positively impact the company’s success. Take a close look at how your organization handles employee recognition, celebrations, and the approach to employee performance. Make sure employees have a chance to have their concerns heard and respond to their feedback. Make company culture a part of your key business goals.

Company culture is foundational to your business. From setting up the right benefits to implementing the right HR technology so your people are valued and heard, take a look at Ethan Allen’s services.

Employers to Provide Electronic Versions of Mandatory Workplace Postings

February 2023

New York has always required employers to post certain State Labor Laws in a conspicuous place for employees to see. A new law that went into effect on December 16 requires employers to make all mandatory workplace posters available electronically to employees as well. In addition to that, the law says that NY businesses must place their labor law posters in a conspicuous place on each floor of their workplace. Employers will need to make sure that they have updated posters for 2023, since there are changes taking place such as the increase to minimum wage. There are federal posters that need to comply with these requirements as well.

Looking to stay up to date on New York laws for your business? From payroll to safety & risk management, there are many advantages to working with Ethan Allen. Learn more!

Wage Theft Prevention Act

January 2023

Since April 9, 2011, New York State requires employers to give written notice of wage rates to each new hire under the Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA).

According to the Department of Labor, the notice must include:

  • Rate or rates of pay, including overtime rate of pay (if it applies)
  • How the employee is paid: by the hour, shift, day, week, commission, etc.
  • Regular payday
  • Official name of the employer and any other names used for business (DBA)
  • Address and phone number of the employer’s main office or principal location
  • Allowances taken as part of the minimum wage (tips, meal and lodging deductions)

Employers must:

  • Keep records for six years; records include the new notice and acknowledgment and payroll records
  • Keep accurate records of hours worked by employees and wages paid

 

Failure to provide an accurate wage notice can result in fines up to $5,000 per employee.

 

Compliance is just one area we can help your business in. From payroll to safety & risk management, there are many advantages to working with Ethan Allen. Learn more!

Confidentiality in ADA and Leave Laws

December 2022

When an employee requests an accommodation under the Americans with Disability Act or goes out on leave for Disability, Paid Family Leave, or the Family Medical Leave Act, it is the employer’s responsibility to keep the reason for the leave confidential. Supervisors don’t need to know the reason an employee needs to take leave – they need to know when to expect the employee to return to work, and if they come back, what the work restrictions are. If an employee is on intermittent leave, the supervisor needs to know the frequency and duration of the leave, as well as if the leave will need to occur at regular or irregular intervals. Avoid telling anyone about the underlying medical condition that is causing the restriction or the need for leave. Document the communication with the manager to detail the need for leave and the required restrictions. This is true for when an employee takes a sick day as well. Even if the employee shared the reason for taking a day with you, that doesn’t mean that their coworkers or manager have a right to know the reason. If there is a COVID case in the workplace, you can let employees know that there was a COVID case, but do not tell them which employee tested positive.

 

Compliance is just one area we can help your business in. From payroll to safety & risk management, there’s many advantages to working with Ethan Allen. Learn more!

Returning Company Property

November 2022

Getting employees to return company property after they are terminated can be tricky, especially if they are a remote worker. State law prohibits employers from withholding an employee’s last paycheck until the property is returned. Also prohibited is deducting the value of the items from the departing employee’s final paycheck. There are other tools at employers’ disposal, however, and best practices that can make recovering missing property easier. Have employees sign an acknowledgment when they are issued any new company property that includes the requirement to return the equipment at the end of employment. Ask the employee to come into the office with the equipment on their last day. To encourage employees to come into the office, employers may issue a paper check as their final paycheck which they ask the employee to pick up in the office, though they should include information in the employee handbook that the last check may be issued via paper check. Remind employees in writing to return equipment, and if they still fail to do so, remind them that failure to return company equipment will result in the company exercising its rights under the law for a criminal charge of theft, a civil action seeking the value of the items, or both.

 

Still have questions about compliance and HR Services? Download our HR Employment Law Evaluation and see where you stack up.

Sexual Harassment

October 2022

New York State has a new hotline that employees can use to report Sexual Harassment. By calling 1-800-HARASS-3, they can speak to a pro bono attorney regarding their complaint. As a reminder, in 2019, New York passed legislation to strengthen protections against discrimination and harassment under the NYS Human Rights Law. Employers are required to provide annual sexual harassment training to all employees, and to provide a sexual harassment prevention policy to all employees. The policy must include information to prohibit sexual harassment, a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints, and a sexual harassment complaint form. Employers should also update their existing policy to include the new hotline. Encouraging to report sexual harassment when it first occurs can help to foster a workplace climate of trust and a sense of safety among employees when these claims are immediately acted on and resolved.

 

Ethan Allen can take on these challenges and more for you and your team. Here are 10 ways partnering with Ethan Allen can help.

Resources for Accommodating Employees with Disabilities

September 2022

There are a number of resources available for employers who need assistance accommodating an employee with a disability. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disability, which may include assistance such as providing an interpreter for an employee with hearing impairment, or providing increased accessibility for an employee with mobility issues.

  • One resource is the Job Accommodation Network, or Ask Jan: https://askjan.org/.
  • Another resource is the US DOJ ADA Information Line, which allows employers to ask specific questions about ADA requirements by calling 800-514-0301.

 

Compliance is just one area we can help your business in. From payroll to safety & risk management, there are many advantages to working with Ethan Allen. Learn more!

Legal Marijuana

Legal Marijuana and the Workplace

August 2022

With the legalization of marijuana, many employers have questions about how they can handle employee usage of marijuana. Employers may no longer prohibit cannabis use across the board, and should not drug test for marijuana (with some exceptions, such as drivers who require a CDL license). Employers should manage the suspected use of marijuana as a job performance issue and not act solely on the suspicion that the employee has been using marijuana. This is just one of many unexpected business challenges you may be facing. Ethan Allen can take on these challenges and more for you and your team.

Here are 10 ways partnering with Ethan Allen can help.

Interview Questions to Avoid

July 2022

Employers should be careful when interviewing potential employees to be sure not to ask any questions that may give information regarding an employee’s protected status, such as age, race, religion, national origin, marital status, or disability.  A question such as “what year did you graduate from high school?” could give information about an employee’s age; the best way to ask for this information is, “Did you graduate from high school?” Questions should be kept job specific as much as possible.  In addition, in New York State, asking about an employee’s salary history is prohibited. The appropriate question to ask is what salary the potential employee requires.

Still have questions about compliance and HR Services? Download our HR Employment Law Evaluation and see where you stack up.

Electronic Monitoring Notification

June 2022

On May 7, a new law went into effect in New York that requires employers to notify all employees that they may be subject to having their work activities and communications be subject to electronic monitoring.  Employees should also be aware that the fact that a document, data or communication has been “deleted” by the employee does not mean that the item cannot be monitored or retrieved and reviewed.  Employers should post a notice for all current employees and require all new employees to sign an acknowledgment of electronic monitoring in order to be in compliance.

What do you gain when you partner with Ethan Allen for HR Administration & Compliance support? Find out here.

What is a workweek? Is it just hours of operation?

May 2022

A workweek is not the same thing as your hours of operation. Rather, it defines the 168-hour period (i.e., seven 24-hour days) in which you track your nonexempt employees’ time to determine whether they’re owed any overtime premium pay.

The workweek can start and end whenever you would like (e.g., Saturday at midnight or Tuesday at noon), but it should change rarely, if ever. Changing it to avoid paying overtime would violate the Fair Labor Standards Act and could lead to wage complaints.

Your employees should know what the workweek is. We recommend posting it in a place they’ll see, like a wall in the office kitchen or in the employee handbook.

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workers comp

Workers’ Compensation

April 2022

Workers’ compensation is a critical aspect of fair labor practices. Protecting both businesses and their employees, workers’ compensation exists as insurance that provides wage replacement and medical coverage to workers who were injured on the job.

While specific mandates vary by state, New York has strict workers’ compensation regulations with very few exceptions for employers. Essentially, if your business has employees, you need workers’ compensation coverage.

Below is a quick list from the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board detailing the events covered by this insurance:

  • Medical care needed to treat an on-the-job injury
  • Short-term payments to replace lost wages
  • Permanent payments if the injury has permanent effects
  • Legal representation for the employer
  • Protection for the employer against lawsuits pertaining to on-the-job injury/illness

 

Navigating New York’s workers’ compensation laws and mitigating risk for your business can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. Partnering with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) like Ethan Allen HR Services can take much of the burden off of you and your teams. A PEO acts as a co-employer to your employees, handling payroll administration, administering benefits, and, you guessed it, maintaining workers’ compensation coverage for your workforce.

What you need to know about EEOC Type 8

March 2022

The 2021 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection for private employers is tentatively scheduled to open on Tuesday, April 12th, 2022. The tentative deadline to file the 2021 EEO-1 Report is Tuesday, May 17th, 2022.

  • Employers that have at least 100 employees are required to file component 1 data reports annually with the EEOC.
  • Federal government contractors and first-tier subcontractors with 50 or more employees and at least $50,000 in contracts must only file component 1 data reports.
  • Type 6 Multi-Establishment Company Reports have been discontinued. Multi-Establishment Company Reports type 2,3,4 and 8 still apply.
  • Federal contractors with 1-49 employees, and other private employers with 1-99 employees, are not required to file either EEO-1 component 1 data or component 2 data.

 

Updates regarding the 2021 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection will be posted on this website, https://eeocdata.org/eeo1.

How to Protect Your Business and Meet Wage and Hour Compliance Requirements

February 2022

Wage and hour issues are some of the most frequent, expensive, and challenging employer compliance problems. In order to withstand a Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation, complaint wage practices and classifications are your first and best defense. From wage concepts such as minimum wage and overtime to relevant state and federal wage and hour rules, business owners and HR professionals need to be informed and up to date to protect their business.

Here are a few quick ways to find out if your business has compliant wage practices:

Make sure all non-exempt employees receive at least the relevant minimum wage for all hours worked.

Secure and maintain signed timesheets from all non-exempt employees verifying their work hours and retain such timesheets for at least 3 years or longer.

Ensure that employees are properly classified as either W-2 employees or 1099 independent contractors in accordance with the IRS and EEOC guidelines.

For more information, go to https://eapeo.com/new-york-workplace-compaliance-guide/

www.eapeo.com

How to Handle the Supreme Court’s Rulings | OSHA’s ETS

January 2022

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, United States Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh issued astatement that made no reference to further defense of the ETS in court. He characterized the decision as “a major setback,” and said that “OSHA will be evaluating all options to ensure workers are protected from this deadly virus.”

Secretary Walsh called for employers to take three courses of action. First, “[w]e urge all employers to require workers to get vaccinated or tested weekly,” even in the absence of an OSHA requirement to do so. While OSHA cannot enforce the ETS, employers may choose to follow the ETS voluntarily.

Second, he directed employers to review OSHA guidance: “Employers are responsible for the safety of their workers on the job, and OSHA has comprehensive COVID-19 guidance to help them uphold their obligation.” OSHA’s current COVID-19 guidance, summarized in this alert, dates back to August 13, 2021. Since then, the CDC has significantly revised its guidanceon quarantining and mask usage. As OSHA based its guidance on then-current CDC guidance, expect updates soon from OSHA.

Third, Secretary Walsh warned employers that OSHA will continue to enforce its permanent standards and the General Duty Clause: “Regardless of the ultimate outcome of these proceedings, OSHA will do everything in its existing authority to hold businesses accountable for protecting workers, including under the  COVID-19 National Emphasis Programand General Duty Clause.”

Employers should expect an increased emphasis by OSHA of enforcement under the General Duty Clause and OSHA’s permanent standards, such as the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and respiratory protection standards. OSHA will likely use the ETS as a resource for determining compliance. Consider the December 27, 2021 statementthat withdrew most of the healthcare ETS, noting in relevant part: OSHA will accept compliance with the terms of the Healthcare ETS as satisfying employers’ related obligations under the General Duty Cause, respiratory protection, and PPE standards. Continued adherence to the terms of the healthcare ETS is the simplest way for employers in healthcare settings to protect their employees’ health and ensure compliance with their OSH Act of 1970 obligations.

This increased enforcement will likely bring heightened penalties. The maximum penalties for OSHA violations increased effective January 15, 2022 to account for inflation. Now the maximum penalty for a willful or repeat violation is $145,027, and the maximum penalty for a serious or other-than-serious violation is $14,502.

Employers should continue to monitor OSHA and CDC developments to ensure that workers are protected, and should consider implementing the recommended best practices.