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Upcoming Labor & Employment Law Changes in 2022

Upcoming Labor & Employment Law Changes in 2022

For both employers and employees, 2022 brings several updates and changes to labor & employment law worth paying attention to.

Workplace vaccination status

Continuing the law enacted in March 2021 and effective through 2022, all workers in New York State are eligible for up to 4 hours of paid leave to receive a COVID-19 vaccination shot, including boosters. 

NYC employees are additionally entitled to up to four hours of paid leave for their child to receive vaccination, or to provide care for the child due to the vaccine’s side effects. The four hours are counted per child and per injection.

Adding to the law enacted in December 2021, which requires all NYS employees and clients of a business to wear a mask indoors at all times (excluding enclosed private spaces) unless a sweeping vaccine requirement is enforced, New York City employers are now required to exclude unvaccinated individuals from the workplace entirely. All workers entering a physical workspace in the city must either show proof of vaccination (at least one dose, and a second within 45 days) or request an exception due to a religious or medical accommodation (or if they only ever enter the workplace for a quick and limited purpose, like making a delivery or using the bathroom).

Sick Leave

Clarifying rules adopted in December allow NYS employees to use sick leave for mental or physical illness, injury, or other health conditions without a formal diagnosis or proof of medical care. This includes both COVID-19 illness and the side effects of vaccination.

The amount of leave depends on the employer size (nationwide) and income:

  • ≤4 employees + net income ≤$1 million =  40 hours of unpaid sick leave per calendar year
  • ≤4 employees + net income >$1 million = 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year
  • 5–99 employees = 40 hours of paid sick leave
  • ≥100 employees = 56 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year

COVID-19 Sick Leave

In addition to paid sick leave, NYS law continues to require most employers to provide 5–14 days of paid leave for employees who are under a COVID-19 quarantine or isolation order. (A positive test result triggers an automatic quarantine/isolation order.)

Employers may not require employees to first use accrued paid sick before taking COVID-19 leave. For smaller employers, the first 5 days of qualified COVID-19 leave are paid by the employer, and the balance (up to 14 days) is covered by a combination of Paid Family Leave and Disability insurance policies. Large employers must pay for up to 14 days for qualified COVID-19 leave.

Paid Family Leave

Effective January 1, 2022, new amendments to the New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law allow employees to take intermittent Paid Family Leave (PFL) days based on an employee's average number of workdays per week. This was previously capped at 60 days, but now allows for more for employees who average at least five days a week.

A separate bill, effective January 1 of next year, has also expanded the definition of “family member” for purposes of PFL to include siblings with a serious illness or medical condition.

For 2022, the new maximum weekly benefit for PFL is $1,068.36 and the maximum annual contribution is $423.71.

COVID-19-related federal and state guidelines were also issued in March 2020.

Whistleblower protections

Effective January 26, 2022, new state laws substantially broaden whistleblower protections, including expanded definitions of "employee," "law," and "retaliation," as well as expanded statute of limitations, remedies, and reduced whistleblowing requirements.

Workplace safety plan

Amendments to the New York HERO Act, from May and June 2021 with further details issued in December, require all NYS employers to create and maintain an infectious disease exposure plan. Set to take effect after February 9, 2022, employers with ≥10 employees will also have to allow employees to form a "workplace safety committee" and review workplace policies relating to occupational health and safety.

Electronic monitoring

Effective May 7, 2022, NYS employers must provide written notice to employees upon hiring if they monitor or otherwise intercept the employee's phone calls, emails, or internet usage. Employees must acknowledge receipt in writing (including electronically). For current employees, employers must post an electronic monitoring notice in a conspicuous place, readily available for viewing by all relevant employees.

Minimum wage

Since December 2019 and continuing, minimum wage in NYC, Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk is $15.00 per hour. The exempt salary threshold remains $58,500 per year ($1,125 per week).

Salary listings in job postings

Beginning May 15, 2022, adverts and posts for employment positions in NYC must include the minimum and maximum salaries offered for each position.