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Employers in New York City Must Allow Temporary Schedule Changes

Effective July 18, 2018, employers in New York City are required to grant two temporary schedule changes (without disciplinary consequences) per calendar year to employees for qualifying “personal events.”  This law amends the New York City Fair Workweek Law, which came into effect late last November.

What is a “Personal Event”?

Under the new law, a personal event means (1) the need for a caregiver to provide care to a minor child or care recipient; (2) an employee’s need to attend a legal proceeding or hearing for subsistence benefits to which the employee, a family member or the employee’s care recipient is a party; or (3) any circumstance that would constitute a basis for permissible use of safe or sick time under New York City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave law.

What is a Temporary Change?

A temporary change is a limited alteration in hours, times or locations where an employee is expected to work, including, but not limited to using paid time off, working remotely, swapping or shifting work hours, and using short-term unpaid leave.

What is the Process for Requesting Leave?

Employee’s Obligations

The employee must notify his or her employer or direct supervisor as soon as he/she becomes aware of the need for a temporary change to the work schedule and must notify them it is due to a personal event.  The employee must make a proposal for the temporary change to the schedule, unless the employee is asking for leave without pay.  The employee does not have to put the initial request in writing but must do so no later than two business after the employee returns to work following the temporary change.  The notice must indicate the dates the change was requested and that it was due to a personal event.  If the employee fails to submit the written request, the employer’s obligation to respond is waived.

Employer’s Obligations

An employer who receives an initial request for a temporary change shall respond immediately but the response does not have to be in writing.  As soon as practicable but no later than 14 days after the employee submits the written request, the employer has to provide a written response.  The response must include: (1) whether the employer agrees to the temporary change to the work schedule in the manner requested by the employee or will provide the temporary change (i.e., the time off) to the work schedule as leave without pay, which is not a denial; (2) if the employer denies the request for a temporary change, an explanation for the denial; and (3) how many requests and how many business days the employee has left in the calendar year after taking into account the employer’s decision in the written response.

Employers should note the law only allows the denial of a request if the employee has already exhausted the two allotted requests in the calendar year or if an exemption applies.

Exemptions to the Law.

The law does not apply to an employee who:

  • Is covered by a collective bargaining agreement if the agreement waives this law and addresses temporary changes to work schedules;
  • Has been employed by the employer fewer than 120 days;
  • Is employed by an employer whose primary business is the development, creation or distribution of theatrical motion pictures, televised motion pictures, television or live entertainment presentation, except it does apply to employees whose primary duty is office or non-manual work related to the operations of the company in this type of job.
  • Works fewer than 80 hours in the City in a calendar year.

No employee may be retaliated against for use of this schedule change or law.

Employers in New York City should train their management team on this new law and ensure compliance. 

Brody and Associates regularly provides counsel on leave laws and employment laws in general.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.