Firing an Employee? Put It In Writing – New York Employers Must Give Terminated Employees a “Five-Day Letter”
Part One in a Five Part Series – Originally published by Rockland County Business Journal, September 2019.
New York State has long required employers to provide written notice to employees who leave the company – regardless of the reason. In the three decades since this has been required, we have found most New York employers don’t even realize this requirement exists. Here’s what you need to know:
New York Labor Law §195(6) requires employers:
notify any employee terminated from employment, in writing, of the exact date of such termination as well as the exact date of cancellation of employee benefits connected with such termination. In no case shall notice of such termination be provided more than five working days after the date of such termination.
What does this mean? It means any time an employee leaves your company, you have 5 days to provide a letter which states the exact date the employee left and the exact date each of their employee benefits terminated or will terminate. This includes health insurance coverage.
How to Best Incorporate this Rule into Your Offboarding Procedures
Employers in New York are also required to give every employee who leaves a “Record of Employment” form from the NYS Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Division. Employers must fill out the top section of the form before giving it to the departing employee. The form does imply the employee is entitled to Unemployment Insurance benefits, but this is not true. It is only officially designed to help in the event the employee wishes to apply. And yes, it is required, even if the employee voluntarily quit. A best practice is to give the departing employee the required termination letter and reference the Record of Employment form is attached.
The Take Away
This is just one of those subtle laws people traditionally don’t notice. Employers, consider this your reminder. You should be providing terminated employees with the required letter within 5 days of their termination and should provide all departing employees – whether they were fired, quit, or laid off – with the required Unemployment Insurance form. Lastly, don’t forget to pay departing employees on time! These three simple steps can save you from major headaches (and potential penalties) down the road.