New year, new employment laws

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(The Center Square) – New York will see more than the ball and confetti dropping in the new year; a slew of new laws impacting workers will take effect.

The minimum wage will be increased to $15 per hour across the state, while New York City and the surrounding will go to $16 per hour.

Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul touted the increase as a way to offset rising costs stemming from inflation, citing single mothers and minorities as those affected the most.

“In the face of steadily rising costs and inflation, this historic plan to overhaul New York’s minimum wage will ensure that the wages of those hit hardest by the affordability crisis – including women, single mothers and people of color – keep pace with the cost of living,” Hochul said.

A new law to provide freelance workers with more rights and protections through the “freelance isn’t free act” will require written contracts; timely and full payment; and protections from discrimination and retaliation for freelancers making at least $800 for their services. The Department of Labor will be charged with providing employers and freelancers with model contracts to help ensure they are following the law.

Employers will also have additional privacy protections that will bar employers from requesting or requiring employees or potential employees to provide access to their social media accounts. Unlike other laws, this new law isn’t scheduled to take effect until March.

Lastly, teens hoping to be lifeguards won’t have to wait until 16 to qualify to work. New legislation aimed at easing the lifeguard shortage will take effect after the new year to allow 15-year-olds to lifeguard at pools, beaches and camps under direct supervision.

“This legislation will help address the lifeguard shortage while ensuring that our children and fellow New Yorkers are supervised and safe in the waters,” Hochul said.

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