A layman's guide to the labor laws you should know about in 2019.


Mapping out your 2019 hiring plan is an exciting process, but all of the legal jargon that you have to read through during it? Not quite as thrilling. But fear not: we’ve put together a list of some of the most major labor law and policy changes coming to NYC and San Francisco in 2019 in layman’s terms so you can push your hiring goals forward.

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that list is not exhaustive, and it’s important to keep up with all of the labor laws and policy changes that have just taken or will take place that may affect your organization whether you’re in New York City, San Francisco, or beyond. Be sure to reference official government documents for complete descriptions of the current labor laws, policy changes, and rulings described below.

General Labor Law and Policy Updates


Paid Sick Leave

In NYC: As of May 5th, 2018, under NYC’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, companies with 5 or more employees who work 80+ hours per calendar year are eligible for up to 40 hours of paid leave while companies with 1-4 employees who work 80+ hours per calendar year are eligible for up to 40 hours of unpaid leave. Employees earn 1 hour for every 30 hours worked.

Employees can use sick leave if they have a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, or if they or a family member need to get a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment for a mental or physical illness, injury, or condition or need to get preventative medical care. They can also take sick leave if their employer’s business or child’s school is closed due to a public health emergency or if they or a family member are a victim or may be under threat of domestic violence, unwanted sexual physical contact, human trafficking, or stalking.

Employees who are covered are:

  • Full-time employees
  • Part-time employees
  • Transitional jobs program employees
  • Employees who are family members but not owners (except in agriculture)
  • Employees who live outside of New York City

Employees can carry over up to 40 unused hours of unused safe or sick leave to the next calendar year.


In San Francisco: As of May 7th, 2018, employees accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Employees begin accruing sick leave on the 1st day of employment and can begin using paid sick leave starting on their 90th day of employment.

Employees may use paid sick leave for an existing condition, for preventative care, and also if they are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Employees can also use paid sick leave to care for a specified family member or designated person.

  • For companies with fewer than 10 employees: Employees can accrue up to 48 hours of paid sick leave or employers can provide an “advance” of 24 hours or 3 days of paid sick leave in compliance with California state’s “up-front option” and later allow employees to accrue to up 40 hours of paid sick leave in compliance with San Francisco law.
  • For companies with 11 or more employees: Employees can accrue at least up to 72 hours of paid sick leave.

Paid sick leave carries over from year to year.


Wage Changes

In NYC: The minimum wage for companies with under 10 employees will rise from $12.00 to $13.50 on December 31st, 2018. As for companies with 11 or more employees, the minimum wage will rise from $13.00 to $15.00.


In San Francisco: The minimum wage rose from $14.00 to $15.00 on July 1st, 2018, and will be adjusted on July 1st, 2019 depending on the Consumer Price Index.


Labor Law and Policy Changes in New York City


Temporary Schedule Change Law

This law, which went into effect on July 18th, 2018, allows employees to make temporary changes to their work schedules for up to two different occasions each calendar year for personal matters, including:

  • Caring for a child under the age of 18
  • Caring for a care recipient (e.g. a family or household member who has a disability or needs assistance for daily living)
  • Attending a legal hearing or proceeding concerning the public benefits for the employee, a family member, the employee’s minor child, or a care recipient
  • A reason under the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law


Employees covered under this law are those who work more than 80 hours per calendar year in NYC and who have worked for their employer for more than 120 days (roughly 4 months) regardless of their immigration status and are also any of the following:

  • Full-time employees
  • Part-time employees
  • Transitional jobs program employees
  • Employees who are family members but not owners (except in agriculture)
  • Employees who live outside of New York City


Stop Sexual Harassment Act

This act falls under the NYC Human Rights Law and went into effect on September 6th, 2018. It classifies sexual harassment as unwelcome physical or verbal behavior based on someone’s gender, which includes, but is not limited to:

  • Unwarranted or inappropriate touching
  • Making derogatory or sexist comments
  • Offering incentives (e.g. promotions) in exchange for sexual favors
  • Threatening or engaging in adverse action if an employee refuses sexual advances

It also applies to instances of retaliation (e.g. demotions) against those who speak out against sexual harassment at the workplace.

There are a couple things to note with the Stop Sexual Harassment Act. First, it requires that employers provide a fact sheet about the act to each employee at their time of hire, which you can find here. Effective April 1st, 2019, employers with over 15 employees will also be required to conduct anti-sexual harassment training for all employees (management and interns included!) annually.


Paid Family Leave

On January 1st, 2018, New York State made paid family leave mandatory for employees that have worked 20 or more hours per week for 26 weeks (6 months). Employees can take time off of work to care for family members that are ill or have serious health conditions. This includes:

  • Spouses
  • Domestic partners
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Parents-in-law
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren

Under Paid Family Leave, employees can:

  • Take up to 8 weeks of paid family leave, which will rise to 12 weeks in 2021
  • Receive 50% of their average weekly wage while on paid family leave, which will rise to 67% in 2021

Under Paid Family Leave, employers can:

  • Deduct 0.126% of an employee’s paycheck while they are on paid family leave to cover health insurance costs.

While employers can allow employees to take vacation or sick leave in order to earn a full salary during this time, they cannot require employees to take vacation or sick leave for paid family leave.


Labor Law and Policy Changes in San Francisco


Consideration of Salary History Ordinance

Also known as the Parity in Pay Ordinance, the Consideration of Salary History Ordinance went into effect on July 1st, 2018. It prohibits employers from:

  • Considering an applicant’s current or past salary figure in deciding whether or not to hire them or what salary figure to offer them
  • Asking an applicant what their current or past salary is or has been
  • Disclosing a current or former employee’s salary history without their authorization unless that information is publicly available

If an applicant discloses their current or past salary voluntarily, however, the employer can take this information into consideration when deciding what salary figure to offer them.


Lactation in Workplace

As of August 25th, 2018, employers must provide employees with lactation breaks and a designated lactation location. They also must establish a policy that explains how employees can request lactation accommodation.



Disclaimer: Remember to be sure to reference official government documents for complete descriptions of the current labor laws, policy changes, and rulings described above.



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