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Employers should reassess employee handbooks as new law is passed

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2022 | Employee Rights |

Employee handbooks in New York will detail what is expected of employees. It will also state the disciplinary procedures and various policies. State law plays a fundamental role in what employers can and cannot do with their employees. When changes are made to the law, the employee handbook should be updated to address that. This can prevent disputes because of a lack of clarity or misunderstanding. A recent change to the law addresses attendance issues and employers must be cognizant of it so they are fully protected.

New York State legislature passes bill regarding no-fault attendance policies

No-fault attendance policies are the focus of a bill that was recently passed by the New York State legislature. Gov. Kathy Hochul has yet to sign it into law, but it is still vital for employers to know what bearing it might have on them and update their policies accordingly.

A no-fault attendance policy will put points on the employee’s record for every absence independent of why the employee did not show up for work. If enough points are amassed, it could cause the employee a problem. They might be disciplined and even lose their job. The employer decides how the point system works and this must be clear to the employee from the outset. The policy does not account for legitimate excuses or for a person who simply did not show up for work and did not have a reason for it.

With the new law, if the business has a no-fault attendance policy, it will not be able to penalize employees who use local, federal or state laws to take days off when they are entitled to do so. An example would be an employee who is taking time off based on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for an ill loved one. Since the city and state laws guarantee that the person can use FMLA and not be penalized for it, the employer will not be legally able to penalize them.

In addition, employers cannot make threats, dismiss, penalize, discriminate against or retaliate against employees who complained over an employer violating this law. Once the bill is signed, it will go into effect 90 days later. The governor is expected to sign it into law.

Updating handbooks and employment policies is imperative when new laws are passed

Employers can face legal claims for a variety of reasons and if employees are claiming they were unaware of certain policies and were punished for it—or even lost their jobs—they must consider how to nip these problems in the bud. A fundamental aspect of that is to have an employee handbook that specifically details the attendance policy and is applicable with the current and pending laws.

To effectively create an employee handbook with all the rules of the job, it is wise to have professional help with employment law for employers. If there are allegations that the employer violated the law regarding discipline or they are accused of wrongful termination, discrimination or any other employment issue, a strong defense is necessary. Having experienced and professional guidance can find solutions to avoid the negative impact of allegations of violating employment law.