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Temporary Schedule Changes: New NYC law gives employees more flexibility

scheduleOn July 18, 2018, the new Temporary Schedule Change Law took effect in New York City. Under the law, covered employees have a right to temporary changes to their work schedule for certain “personal events.” All employees who work over 80+ hours per calendar year in NYC and who have been employed by their employer for more than 120 days are covered by this law. Government employees, certain collective bargaining employees, and certain employees in motion picture, television, and live entertainment industries are exempt from the new law. The new law also requires that employers place a conspicuous notice of the law in the workplace.

The new law has some very broad definitions that are favorable to employees. The Department of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”) provided the definitions below as guidance:

Temporary change
A “temporary change” means an adjustment to an employee’s usual schedule. This can include: using short-term unpaid leave, paid time off, working remotely, or swapping or shifting working hours.

Personal event
A “personal event” can be any of the following:
- The need to care for a child under the age of 18
- The need to care for a “care recipient,” a person with a disability who is a family or household member and relies on the employee for medical care or to meet the needs of daily living
- The need to attend a legal proceeding or hearing for public benefits to which the employee, a family member, or the employee’s minor child or care recipient is a party
- Any other reason for which the employee may use leave under NYC’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law Family member

Family Members
“Family members” include:
- Any individual whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of family
- Child (biological, adopted, or foster child; legal ward; child of an employee standing in loco parentis)
- Grandchild
- Spouse
- Domestic Partner
- Parent
- Grandparent
- Child or Parent of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner
- Sibling (including a half, adopted, or step sibling)
- Any other individual related by blood to the employee

Under the new law, employees have a right to request two temporary schedule changes per year – up to one business day per request, or two business days for one request – and prohibits employers from retaliating in any way against such a request.

In order to make such a request, an employee may communicate the need for a schedule change either verbally or in writing. An employee should make their request as soon as they are aware of the need for a schedule change, however, there is no minimum time requirement for such a request. If an employee requests the schedule change verbally, they must submit an identical written request within two business days after they return to work. The employer is required to respond to the employee within 14 days of receiving the written request with details about whether the request was granted or denied, how the request was accommodated, reason for denial (if denied), number of requests for a temporary change made by the employee, and how many days the employee has left for temporary schedule changes that year.

An employer can only deny an employee’s request for one of two reasons: 1) if the employee exceeded the number of allowable requests under the law, or 2) if the employee did not have a qualifying reason for the request. It should be noted that an employer is barred from asking for substantiation of such a request. In granting an employee’s temporary schedule change request, an employer may require employees to take unpaid leave instead of granting the requested schedule change. Employees also have the option of using paid leave for qualifying reasons under NYC’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law if an employer requires them to take a day of unpaid leave.

The new Temporary Schedule Change Law is a boon for employees, however, these new provisions may be confusing, or ignored, by some employers. If you feel that your rights under the new Temporary Schedule Change Law have been violated, please contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. for a consultation.

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