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Prepare to comply with two new employment laws

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in Employment Background Check,Employment Law,Human Resources

Beginning Feb. 1, New York employers must comply with two important new state employment laws affecting notification of impending layoffs and the conduct of criminal background checks.


New York will become the 17th state to enact its own law requiring advance notice of impending layoffs and plant closings. It’s tougher than the federal Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification (WARN) Act.

New York’s version, NYWARN, covers employers with 50 or more employees who work an aggregate of 2,000 hours, including overtime. The law is triggered when 25 employees are affected by a mass layoff. Plus, employers have to let employees know if the operation will be moved to a different location 50 or more miles away.

NYWARN requires employers to give at least 90 days’ notice to employees, their representatives, the state Department of Labor and any local workforce investment boards. Employers that don’t follow the rules may be liable for substantial back pay and benefits, plus attorneys’ fees and fines of up to $500 a day.

Criminal background checks

Employers that conduct background checks now have to provide the employees or applicants a copy of the New York Corrections Law Article 23-A before the check is performed. Article 23-A must also be posted in a “visually conspicuous manner.”

Employers can’t fire or refuse to hire applicants because of a criminal conviction unless:

  • There is a direct relationship between the prior criminal offense and the job; or
  • The individual’s presence would pose an unreasonable risk to property or the safety of specific individuals or the general public.

Final note: Consult your attorney on exactly how to implement these new laws at your workplace.

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