On November 21, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a law clarifying that it is unlawful for an employer to penalize an employee for any absence protected under federal, state or local law. (S.1958/A.8092). The law goes into effect on February 19, 2023.

This new law amends Section 215 of New York Labor Law by protecting workers from being penalized or in any manner retaliated against for taking legally protected absences. There are a myriad of federal, state and local laws that entitle New York employees to paid and unpaid time off from work including the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, the New York Paid Family Leave law, the New York Paid Sick Leave law and New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act to name just a few. Under the amended law, when an employee is absent for a legally protected reason, employers are prohibited from “assessing any demerit, occurrence, any other point, or deductions from an allotted bank of time, which subjects or could subject an employee to disciplinary action, which may include but not be limited to failure to receive a promotion or loss of pay.” Violations of the law can lead to significant civil penalties and damages.

New York employers should review their attendance and leave of absence policies to ensure compliance with this new law.