On September 14, 2023, Governor Kathy Hochul signed three pieces of legislation into law, furthering strengthening workers’ rights in New York State. Two of the newly enacted laws require employees to be notified of their eligibility for certain benefits in the event that they are unemployed and one law protects the personal account information of both employees and applicants.

Notice About Unemployment Insurance Benefits

In the event that your employer terminates you or significantly reduces your working hours, this law requires your employer to notify you of your eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits. You are entitled to receive written notice of your eligibility at the time of your “permanent or indefinite separation from employment, reduction in hours, temporary separation, and any other interruption of continued employment that results in total or partial unemployment.” Therefore, your employer is obligated to provide you with written notice of your benefits even if your termination is temporary.

Notice about Federal Programs

This law requires the New York State Department of Labor to provide notice to unemployment applicants of the availability of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (“WIC”). SNAP and WIC are federally funded benefit programs that are available to eligible low-income individuals and families. SNAP provides food assistance and WIC provides several forms of assistance to help meet the needs of pregnant women, postpartum women, and the caregivers of infants and small children. Under this new law, you will be able to access leaflets containing important information about these benefit programs at your local employment services office.

Protecting Electronic Personal Account Information from Employers

This law protects employees and applicants for hire from being required or coerced to share their electronic personal account information with an employer. Electronic personal accounts are any online accounts or profiles that are utilized exclusively for personal purposes. This involves any form of electronic media where individuals may create, share, and view user-generated content, including videos, photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, or instant messages. Employers are now prohibited from requesting, requiring, or coercing access to these accounts in any way. This means an employer cannot require you to disclose your username, password, or any other way to access these accounts and they cannot require you to open these accounts in their presence. Additionally, employers are prohibited from taking adverse action against you if you refuse to provide them access to your personal online accounts. If you are currently an employee, your employer may not terminate, discipline, or penalize you. If you are an applicant, an employer may not fail or refuse to hire you solely because you refuse to provide access to your account information.