New Workers’ Rights Legislation: What Employers Need to Know

In a time of ever-evolving labor laws and regulations, it can be daunting for employers to keep up with the latest changes.

However, staying informed and adapting to these developments is crucial to maintaining a thriving and compliant workplace.

The recent workers’ rights legislation in New York and New Jersey has introduced a range of protective measures for employees navigating unemployment or transitions in business ownership.

Understanding the implications of these new laws is not just a responsibility, but also a strategic advantage for hiring managers and employers.

By staying ahead and ensuring a work environment that respects and upholds these rights, businesses can attract top talent, foster employee loyalty, and safeguard their reputation in the industry.

New York’s enhanced workers’ rights protections

New York’s enhanced workers’ rights protections include unemployment benefits notifications as well as prohibition of employer access to social media accounts.

Unemployment benefits notification for workers’ rights

One of the key provisions in the recent legislation was added via an amendment to New York State labor law and outlines the requirement for employers to inform employees about their eligibility for unemployment benefits.

Starting on Nov. 13, employers will be required to provide any employees who are separated from their company, or see their work hours reduced, with a written notice that they are eligible to file for unemployment benefits.

The written notice must be provided to the employee within five working days from their termination or reduction in work hours, and include the employer’s name, registration number, and contact address.

Prohibition of employer access to social media accounts

In a conscious stride towards preserving privacy, the new legislation has also established a firm prohibition against employers accessing their employees’ and potential candidates’ social media accounts.

Under this statute, employers are barred from requesting or coercing employees or applicants into disclosing their usernames, passwords, or other access credentials for their personal social media accounts.

This prohibition extends to employers accessing employees’ or applicants’ personal accounts or reproducing photos, videos, or other information within an employee’s personal account.

The law serves as a strong deterrent, protecting the privacy rights of individuals in the workplace.

This provision will take effect on March 12, 2024, thereby mandating employers to revise their hiring and management practices accordingly.

New Jersey’s protection of service workers legislation

New Jersey’s protection of service workers legislation includes pre-notification of ownership changes as well as retention of existing employees.

Pre-notification of ownership changes

The recent legislation in New Jersey, taking effect on October 22, 2023, provides stringent protection for non-managerial or professional service workers by requiring the incumbent business owner to notify them 15 days in advance about any changes in ownership.

This mandate is applicable to employees working in various service sectors including cleaning, food service, non-professional health care, and security.

The outgoing employer is required to provide the incoming employer with a full list of workers, along with details including their tenure, pay rate, and average hours of work.

This law ensures workers are not left in the dark and facilitates a smooth transition during such changes, safeguarding their rights and interests.

Retention and workers’ rights of existing employees

In addition to the pre-notification requirement, the New Jersey legislation also mandates the new employer to retain existing employees for a period of at least 60 days, or until their contract expires — whichever comes first — following the change in ownership.

This clause serves to provide job security to service workers during periods of transition.

However, exemptions may apply if the new employer can provide sufficient proof of just cause for termination during this period, or if the employee voluntarily resigns.

Furthermore, in scenarios where a reduction in workforce is unavoidable, the law stipulates the creation of a “preferential hiring list”, prioritizing displaced workers for rehiring based on seniority.

Compliance and considerations for workers’ rights legislation

Employers should familiarize themselves with the recent legislation in New York and employee protections in New Jersey and promptly implement necessary changes in their practices.

Regular training sessions can be conducted to ensure that all managerial staff understand and adhere to these new laws.

Legal resources such as the Department of Labor’s guidance documents or legal counsel can provide a deeper understanding of the legislation, helping businesses better navigate these changes.

Additionally, employers may consider partnering with a HR consultancy firm specializing in labor law compliance, which can provide tailored assistance and ensure practices align with the updated legislation.

Workers’ Rights Protections In NY and NJ

The newly enacted workers’ rights legislation in New York and New Jersey introduces substantial amendments, primarily aimed at reinforcing employee protections during events like business ownership transitions and job separations.

Key highlights include a mandate for employers to notify employees about their eligibility for unemployment benefits, a prohibition on employers accessing employees’ personal social media accounts, and stringent protections for service workers during ownership changes.

These legislative shifts underscore the critical importance of employers staying informed and actively adapting to legal changes.

By doing so, businesses not only foster a compliant and supportive work environment but also safeguard their reputation and enhance their appeal to potential talent.

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