NYC to Require Employers Accommodate Requests for "Temporary" Employee Schedule Changes

All of us have faced situations in which we need to take a day off from work due to a sudden personal or family emergency. Unfortunately, many employers are unwilling to accommodate such last-minute schedule changes. A recently adopted change to New York City employment law will give employees greater flexibility in seeking temporary work schedule changes necessitated by “personal events.”

FAQs About the Temporary Schedule Change Law

Last December, the New York City Council passed Int. 1399-A, which officially became law on January 22, 2018, and takes effect this coming July. The main thrust of this new law is that employers in New York City will have to grant eligible employees a “request for a temporary change to the employee’s work schedule relating to a personal event” under certain circumstances. To break the law down in more detail, here is a short list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).

What constitutes a 'personal event' justifying a request for a schedule change?

The law covers the following situations:

  • An employee is a “caregiver” who needs to provide car for a child or other “care recipient.”
  • An employee must attend a court hearing or other “legal proceeding” related to “subsistence benefits” for the employee, their child or care recipient.
  • The employee needs time off for any reason permitted under New York City's Earned Safe and Sick Time Act.

How often can an employee request a schedule change?

The law authorizes an employee to make two requests for a schedule change during each calendar year. Each change may last for one business day. An employee may use two business days for one request, but in such cases the employer is not obligated to grant a second request.

How should an employee request a schedule change?

The employee must notify their employer or supervisor once they become “aware of the need for a temporary change…due to a personal event.” The request should be made in writing. If the initial request is not in writing, the employee must file a written request within two days of returning to work after the schedule change. The employer may also require employees to use an “electronic form” to submit a schedule change request if they commonly use such a system.

How long does the employer have to respond to a request for a schedule change?

The employer must respond “immediately” to an initial request. If this initial response is not in writing, the employer must subsequently file a written answer “[a]s soon as is practicable,” but in no case later than 14 days. Keep in mind, the employer may only deny a request if the employee “has already exhausted the two allotted” requests or a legislative exemption applies. (See below)

What employees are exempt from this law?

The law does not apply to anyone who has worked for the employer less than 120 days or 80 hours in the city during the applicable calendar year, works in the entertainment industry (aside from certain managerial employees), or is covered by a collective bargaining agreement that “addresses temporary changes to work schedules.”

What penalties apply if an employer fails to comply with the law?

The city can fine an employer $500 for refusing to grant an employee a lawful request for a temporary schedule change. If the employer fires an employee in retaliation for exercising his or her rights under the law, the fine increases to $2,500. The city can also order the employer to pay compensatory damages to the affected employee.

Need Help? Contact a New York City Wage and Hour Lawyer Today

New York City has long been at the forefront of promoting employee rights. It is up to you to stand up and take action if your employer is not complying with the law. If you need advice or assistance from a qualified New York employment attorney, contact the Law Offices of Nisar Law Group, P.C., at 646.760.6493 today.


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