Governor Hachul signs legislation to strengthen workers’ rights in New York State

Governor Kathy Hatchul today signed three pieces of legislation to strengthen workers’ rights in New York State. This support will embolden workers in addition to recent employee protections related to mandated political and religious gatherings, increased punishment for wage theft, and increasing benefits for injured workers. The governor’s action builds on her nation-leading jobs agenda, which includes historic plans to raise New York’s minimum wage and index it to inflation, offer 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave for more than 150,000 state employees and more initiatives to raise wages and benefits, increase prevailing wages, connect job seekers with employment opportunities, and help provide retirement security for private sector workers.

“New York workers are the engine of our strong economy, and my administration will continue to take action to advance them.” said Governor Khachul. “This legislative package will ensure that workers across New York State are paid fairly and will be able to support themselves, their families and our local economy.”

The legislation (S. 4878-A / A. 398-A) requires employers to notify their employees that they are eligible for unemployment insurance whenever the employer lays off an employee permanently or temporarily or reduces work hours to the extent that is entitled to full or partial unemployment.

State Sen. Shelley Mayer said, “New York faced catastrophic job losses in 2020 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic – highlighting the vital role of unemployment insurance in sustaining our communities and helping families stay afloat after job loss. This legislation would codify and strengthen existing rules to ensure that workers who are laid off or have their hours reduced have the knowledge and information they need to access unemployment insurance. I am proud that in 2020 my office was able to help hundreds of people who lost their jobs and struggled to access the benefits they were entitled to. This legislation came about directly as a result of the difficulties brought to my attention by constituents. I thank my colleague, Assemblyman Chris Burdick, for his partnership in this legislation to directly address the frustrations our constituents have faced. I thank Governor Kathy Hachul for signing this important legislation.”

Assemblyman Chris Burdick said: “I am very pleased that the governor is signing this vital legislation to provide critical employer notice to employees who are laid off or whose work hours are reduced. I’m especially happy for the partially unemployed who may not realize they may be eligible for unemployment benefits.”

The legislation (S. 2518/A. 836) prohibits employers from requesting or requiring usernames, login information, and passwords for personal accounts as a condition of employment, as a condition of employment, or for use in disciplinary action.

State Sen. Jessica Ramos said, “As our lives increasingly go online, we must put up fences for workers’ privacy. With this legislation, we are redressing the imbalance that puts workers in a position where they have to agree to the demands their bosses make of them. I would like to thank Governor Hachul for her continued partnership in making New York a state that cares about the rights of working people.”

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said: “The explosion in the use of social networks such as Instagram, TikTok and Threads has made information more accessible than ever before. However, some employers make hiring and disciplinary decisions that go beyond the information that prospective and current employees disclose. This includes requesting and demanding username and password information for social media sites from their prospective and current employees, as well as login information for email accounts and other highly personal accounts. Requesting and requiring this information is a serious invasion of privacy by an employer and can lead to issues of unfair and discriminatory hiring and hiring practices. Employees have the right to make this information public or private. They should have every right to maintain that privacy when it comes to their workplace, interview or hiring process, and should not have to comply with that request for fear of losing their job or not being rehired.”

The legislation (S. 1902-A/A. 1245-A) requires the Department of Labor to notify unemployment claimants about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

State Sen. Cordell Clear said, “Government works best when services and activities are coordinated, streamlined and reliable. Those going through the unemployment process may be in dire need of additional support and should not be met with silence and isolation. Now that S1902-A is signed into law, people will be notified in advance of additional benefits available, including food assistance, nutrition education and access to health care.”

Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal said: “Between 2019 and 2021, one in ten households in New York faced food insecurity, a problem that only increased during the pandemic as unemployment rates increased. Despite the availability of programs to help struggling families make ends meet, spreading the word and breaking down the stigma associated with them, the problem remains. I thank Governor Hochul for signing my bill to provide unemployment claimants with information about the WIC program. With this information, families will be able to get back on their feet faster without worrying about where their child’s next meal will come from.”

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