As of July 18, 2018, New York City law requires employers to grant employees up to two temporary schedule changes per calendar year for qualifying “personal events.” We have prepared this short Q&A summary to help employers understand the requirements of the new law.

Which employees are covered?

All employees working in NYC, unless the employee:

  • Has been employed for fewer than 120 days or does not work at least 80 hours in a calendar year in NYC;
  • Is covered by a collective bargaining agreement that waives the provisions of this law and addresses temporary changes to work schedules;
  • Works for an employer whose primary business is the development, creation or distribution of theatrical motion pictures, televised motion pictures, television programs or live entertainment presentations, except for:
    • An employee whose primary duty is the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or its customers (i.e., office workers);
    • An employee whose primary duty is performing routine manual, mechanical or physical work in connection with the care or maintenance of an existing building or location (i.e., building and location workers); or
  • Is an employee of federal, state, or local government.

What sorts of schedule changes are required?

The law requires alteration in the hours, times, or location of work including, but not limited to:

  • Unpaid time off
  • Paid time off (using accrued leave)
  • Change in work location
  • Working remotely
  • Swapping shifts with another employee
  • Shifting scheduled work hours

How many requests can an employee make and how long must the schedule change be in place?

  • Up to two changes in a calendar year of up to one business day each, or
  • One two-day change in a calendar year

What is a qualifying “personal event”?

  • The need to provide care to a minor child or care recipient;
  • The need to attend a legal proceeding or hearing for subsistence benefits; or
  • Any circumstance that would constitute a basis for safe time or sick time pursuant to New York City’s Earned Sick and Safe Time Act. (For an explanation of this Act, see our blog here).

What are the procedures for requesting a temporary schedule change?

  • Employee’s Oral Notice. The employee must notify his/her employer or direct supervisor (not necessarily in writing) of the need for a temporary schedule change, indicating the proposed schedule change and that the change is needed due to a personal event.
    • Employer’s response: Must respond immediately (not necessarily in writing).
  • Employee’s Written Notice. The employee must then submit a written request (email is typically OK) no later than the second business day after the employee returns to work indicating the date for which the change was requested and that it was due to an employee’s personal event.
    • Employer’s response: No later than 14 days after the employee submits a written request, the employer must provide a written response indicating whether it agrees to the change as proposed or will provide the change as leave without pay, or if it denies the request, providing an explanation for the denial. The employer’s determination must also indicate how many requests and how many business days the employee has left in the calendar year.
    • If the employee fails to submit the written notice, the employer’s obligation to respond in writing is waived.
    • A request must be granted unless allotment has been exhausted.
  • Note: Employees can request a temporary schedule change even if they have exhausted their entitlement under the law. Employers are not required to grant additional schedule changes, but must follow these procedures in responding to the request and cannot retaliate against an employee for making the request.
  • Note: The law also prohibits discrimination and retaliation against an employee for exercising their rights under the law.

What are employers’ notice and recordkeeping requirements under the new law?

The law requires employers to post the notice published by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, which is available here. The notice should be 11″ x 17″ in size and posted in both English and in the primary language of at least 5 percent of the workers at a workplace (although the Department has not published translations of the notice). Additionally, employers are required to maintain electronic records of their compliance with the new law for 3 years.