What to know about amended protected leave legislation

Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed into law a new bill that expands retaliatory workplace protections for employees. The law amends New York Labor Law to prohibit an employer from punishing or disciplining an employee who takes time off work for a “lawful absence” protected by federal, state or local law.

It is anticipated that the New York State Department of Labor will issue updated guidance on the changes, however employers should not wait to take the opportunity to review and revise any policies or practices related to paid time off to prepare for compliance with the changes.

The aim of the amendments is to clarify that punishing any employee absent from work under a “protected reason,” constitutes unlawful retaliation. The amendments expand the definition of protected activity to include taking a “legally protected absence pursuant to federal, local, or state law.”

Further, the amendments include “making any deduction from an allotted bank of time” as a part of the unlawful retaliatory action definition.

Finally, the amendments provide that “failure to receive a promotion or loss of pay” that would result, even indirectly, from taking a protected leave of absence would also constitute unlawful retaliatory action under the amended law.

Amendments to the law take effect Feb. 19, 2023. Credit unions with questions can contact Chris Pajak, PHR, New York Credit Union Association VP of member engagement, at christopher.pajak@nycua.org or (800) 342-9835, ext. 8188.

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