Requires employers to authorize absence from or lateness to work if such absence or lateness was due to responding to an emergency as a volunteer firefighter or ambulance worker.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the labor law, in relation to prohibiting an employer from terminating an employee who also is a volunteer firefighter or a volunteer provider of emergency medical services when that employee misses or is late to work because of an emergency to which the employee was dispatched
PURPOSE: The legislation is designed to ensure volunteer firefighters and EMS responders won't lose their paying jobs simply because they were late or missed work while performing their duties.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1. The labor law is amended by adding a new section 202-1 to read as follows:
Section 202-1. Authorized absence. 1. If an employee is absent from or late to his or her employment due to his or her engaging in the actual performance of his or her duties as (a) volunteer firefighter, or (b) an enrolled member of a volunteer ambulance service pursuant to article thirty of the public health law, an employer shall be prohibited from terminating such employee solely on the basis of such absence or lateness.
2. The entire period of the authorized absence may be charged against any other leave such employee is otherwise entitled to, and such authorized absence shall include travel both to and from such duties performed in his or her capacity as a volunteer. At the employer's request the employee must provide the employer with a statement from the head of the volunteer firefighter or volunteer ambulance service, as applicable, stating the employee responded to an emergency at the time of such response.
3. In the event that the employee does not have accrued time to offset any time lost in an emergency response the employer must either, at its option: (a) grant at least three hours of authorized absence in any twelve month period to an employee who has engaged in a volunteer response or (b) allow its employees without use of accumulated leave time an authorized absence for volunteer response during work hours at least two times per calendar year.
4. The commissioner is hereby authorized to establish any necessary guidelines, including requirements for documentation of the emergency response, validation of accrued leave, and the conditions of dismissal and procedures for an employee to seek reinstatement and reimbursement if dismissed on the basis of an authorized absence.
There are numerous examples of volunteers being discharged on the basis of tardiness or absenteeism even though the response was bona fide and in response to a dispatch from the Chief or appropriate person in charge.
The threat of losing a job has a chilling effect on response at a time when more that than 80 percent of New York State's geography is covered by volunteer response. Volunteers are frontline first responders and cannot be replaced without enormous cost to local governments at a time when the State is in the throes of a budget crisis.
The bill has several employer protections. It requires verification from a commanding officer that the volunteer was duly dispatched. It allows for absences to be charged against employee's accrued leave. It allows for verification of the timeline for the response.
Eight states including Ohio, Illinois and California have passed statues to protect their volunteers. Daytime response has become critical and attracting and retaining volunteers has become a daily challenge for local Fire Companies. Volunteers should not have to choose between their job and protecting their community.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: A.9856/S.4988 - Veto #6791 of 2010
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ S. 3305 A. 5306 2011-2012 Regular Sessions S E N A T E - A S S E M B L Y February 15, 2011 ___________IN SENATE -- Introduced by Sen. GRISANTI -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Labor IN ASSEMBLY -- Introduced by M. of A. THIELE, SILVER, CROUCH, DESTITO, LUPARDO -- read once and referred to the Committee on Labor AN ACT to amend the labor law, in relation to prohibiting an employer from terminating an employee who also is a volunteer firefighter or a volunteer provider of emergency medical services when that employee misses or is late to work because of an emergency to which the employ- ee was dispatched THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The labor law is amended by adding a new section 202-l to read as follows: S 202-L. AUTHORIZED ABSENCE. 1. IF AN EMPLOYEE IS ABSENT FROM OR LATE TO HIS OR HER EMPLOYMENT DUE TO HIS OR HER ENGAGING IN THE ACTUAL PERFORMANCE OF HIS OR HER DUTIES AS (A) A VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER, OR (B) AN ENROLLED MEMBER OF A VOLUNTEER AMBULANCE SERVICE PURSUANT TO ARTICLE THIRTY OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH LAW, AN EMPLOYER SHALL BE PROHIBITED FROM TERMINATING SUCH EMPLOYEE SOLELY ON THE BASIS OF SUCH ABSENCE OR LATE- NESS. 2. THE ENTIRE PERIOD OF THE AUTHORIZED ABSENCE MAY BE CHARGED AGAINST ANY OTHER LEAVE SUCH EMPLOYEE IS OTHERWISE ENTITLED TO, AND SUCH AUTHOR- IZED ABSENCE SHALL INCLUDE TRAVEL BOTH TO AND FROM SUCH DUTIES PERFORMED IN HIS OR HER CAPACITY AS A VOLUNTEER. AT THE EMPLOYER'S REQUEST THE EMPLOYEE MUST PROVIDE THE EMPLOYER WITH A STATEMENT FROM THE HEAD OF THE VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER OR VOLUNTEER AMBULANCE SERVICE, AS APPLICABLE, STATING THE EMPLOYEE RESPONDED TO AN EMERGENCY AT THE TIME OF SUCH RESPONSE.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD07855-01-1 S. 3305 2 A. 5306
3. IN THE EVENT THAT THE EMPLOYEE DOES NOT HAVE ACCRUED TIME TO OFFSET ANY TIME LOST IN AN EMERGENCY RESPONSE THE EMPLOYER MUST EITHER, AT ITS OPTION: (A) GRANT AT LEAST THREE HOURS OF AUTHORIZED ABSENCE IN ANY TWELVE MONTH PERIOD TO AN EMPLOYEE WHO HAS ENGAGED IN A VOLUNTEER RESPONSE; OR (B) ALLOW ITS EMPLOYEES WITHOUT USE OF ACCUMULATED LEAVE TIME AN AUTHORIZED ABSENCE FOR VOLUNTEER RESPONSE DURING WORK HOURS AT LEAST TWO TIMES PER CALENDAR YEAR. 4. THE COMMISSIONER IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED TO ESTABLISH ANY NECESSARY GUIDELINES, INCLUDING REQUIREMENTS FOR DOCUMENTATION OF THE EMERGENCY RESPONSE, VALIDATION OF ACCRUED LEAVE, AND THE CONDITIONS OF DISMISSAL AND PROCEDURES FOR AN EMPLOYEE TO SEEK REINSTATEMENT AND REIMBURSEMENT IF DISMISSED ON THE BASIS OF AN AUTHORIZED ABSENCE. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.