NEW YORK – The Green Light Act has certainly captured the attention of New Yorkers since its passage last summer; however, there are other critical guidelines that will go into effect in 2020 in both the state and New York City. Take note, because some can benefit you.
MINIMUM SALARY INCREASE
On December 31, the increase in the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour in companies with fewer than 10 employees goes into effect in New York State.
The minimum wage rate for large companies, which hit $ 15 an hour last year, remains the same.
On December 31, 2018, the minimum wage increased to $ 15 per hour for businesses employing 11 or more people in New York City. The new increase, on December 31, increases the pay to $ 15 per hour in companies that employ 10 or fewer workers. In Long Island and Westchester the increase will be $ 13 per hour and $ 11.80 in the rest of the state.
The minimum wage laws that were passed in 2016 require a gradual increase in the minimum wage to $ 15 per hour.
PAID FAMILY LEAVE
New York State passed new paid family leave laws in 2016 that have been rolling out in recent years. In 2020, workers will be entitled to take up to 10 weeks of leave and receive 60% of their average weekly wage, although that amount will be capped at $ 840.70 per week.
AGRICULTURAL WORKERS BENEFIT THIS YEAR
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in recent months to grant access to Paid Family Leave to farm workers. Beginning January 1, 2020, agricultural workers who meet the requirements will benefit from the program.
In 2020, agricultural workers will be entitled to 10 weeks of paid family leave. The birth of a baby or the care of a family member with a serious health condition are situations that merit paid leave.
The number of weeks employees can take will continue to increase until 2021, at which point employees will be able to enjoy up to 12 weeks of paid and protected time off.
REFORM OF THE CRIMINAL SYSTEM
Beginning January 1, New York State will eliminate cash bail and pretrial detention for a wide range of misdemeanor and non-violent defendants.
In New York City, defendants who comply with their court appearances will receive benefits such as tickets to New York Mets games, movie passes and gift cards.
The reform also requires that police officers issue citations to most defendants of misdemeanors and Class E, rather than arrest and imprison them. These changes seek to ensure that about 90% of people charged with a non-serious crime remain at large before appearing in court. Those who commit violent acts will be jailed.
Another big change requires prosecutors to provide more information so defendants can defend themselves within 15 days of their arraignment.
Opponents claim that the guideline will force prosecutors to provide violent offenders with personal information about their victims, but Cuomo argues that a provision of the law allows prosecutors to apply to the court for a protective order to preserve the confidentiality of that information.
PROHIBITION OF PLASTIC BAGS
As of March 1, no store in New York State will be able to provide customers with a “single use” plastic bag to carry their purchases, unless the customer is a recipient of public assistance.
Stores in the five boroughs will also have to charge customers five cents for each paper bag they pick up. These restrictions will not apply to restaurants and pharmacies, or to plastic bags without a handle that are used to store meat, vegetables, or bulk items, or to shopping bags that are used to store clothing.
Any store that collects sales taxes must stock up on reusable bags.
REPORTING SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
The new law provides workers with new protections against sexual harassment in the workplace. Under the guideline, the statute of limitations for victims to file a complaint with the state’s Human Rights Division will be extended from one year to three years. This provision takes effect on August 12, 2020.
CHANGES IN MENTAL HEALTH COVERAGE
Starting on January 1, 2020, there will be new requirements for health insurers in New York regarding addiction and mental health coverage.
The new requirements include strengthening detailed disclosure about coverage programs so that consumers have decision-making power, limiting copayments or coinsurance for mental health and addiction treatment, expanding existing protections related to medical necessity of inpatient addiction treatment and new prohibitions on prior authorization requirements for certain inpatient mental health treatments apply.
MARIJUANA CONSUMPTION TESTS REQUIRED BY BUSINESSES
Starting May 10, a city statute will prohibit businesses, nonprofits and government agencies from forcing job applicants to submit to a cannabis use test.
The tests do apply to construction workers, commercial drivers, and health and child care fields, as well as any federal contractor.