Provides that an offer of employment or assignment made to a part-time faculty employee by a higher education institution which is contingent on enrollment, funding, or programmatic changes shall not constitute reasonable assurance of continued employment.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the labor law, in relation to unemployment insurance benefits for professional employment by certain education institutions
PURPOSE: This legislation will ensure that professionals employed in two-year and four-year colleges who are not given reasonable assurance of continued employment will be eligible for unemployment insurance during periods of unemployment.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: The bill adds a new paragraph (d) to Labor Law section 590(10) to clarify that employees performing in a principal, administrative, research or instructional position at two-year and four-year colleges and universities in New York are presumed not to have reasonable assurance of continued employment when their positions are conditioned on enrollment, funding or program changes. They would be eligible for unemployment benefits during periods of unemployment unless their employer provides sufficient documentation to overcome this presumption. An employer's letter stating that employment is conditional would not constitute prima facie evidence of reasonable assurance.
JUSTIFICATION: Unemployment insurance is intended to help workers during periods of unemployment when they lack income through no fault of their own. Currently, however, many part-time faculty members at colleges and universities in New York are unable to receive unemployment benefits when they become unemployed between semesters if their employer claims they have a "reasonable assurance" of continued employment, but do not re-hire them when the next semester starts. This leaves many faculty in a state of limbo as to whether they will have a job when the new semester starts since their employer's decision often depends upon contingent factors such as enrollment, funding, and programmatic changes. It is not uncommon for employers to initially provide part-time faculty with a letter of intent that their jobs will continue the following semester, but then notify them very close to the start of the new semester that their employment will not be continue. For many adjunct faculty, the few courses they teach are their sole source of income.
The current law provides an incentive for colleges and universities to wait as long as possible to officially disclose to faculty that they will not be employed for the upcoming semester in order to avoid paying unemployment insurance costs. As a result, faculty are only eligible for unemployment insurance benefits from the time they are officially notified of their nonrenewal for the next semester. By comparison, other workers who are similarly out of work for months at a time - such as construction workers and actors are eligible for benefits during periods of seasonal unemployment. Other jurisdictions such as California and Washington state allow their faculty employees to collect benefits during periods when they are not working.
This bill will help to ensure that faculty members are treated equitably under the current law as other workers who have no reasonable assurance of future employment. It is reasonable and just to afford these benefits to faculty who have no control over their contract employment and therefore have "no reasonable assurance" of continued employment.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2009-10: S.4123-A Referred to Labor and Reported to Finance 2007-08: A.2515 Reported to Ways & Means; S.4845 Referred to Labor 2006: S.4830-A Advanced to 3rd reading; A.8201-B Reported to Rules
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: To be determined.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 727 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 5, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sen. PERALTA -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Labor AN ACT to amend the labor law, in relation to unemployment insurance benefits for professional employment by certain education institutions THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 10 of section 590 of the labor law is amended by adding a new paragraph (d) to read as follows: (D) IN THE CASE OF COLLEGES OR UNIVERSITIES ASSIGNED THE NORTH AMERI- CAN INDUSTRY CLASSIFICATION CODE 611310 OR 611210 FOR SERVICES PERFORMED IN A PRINCIPAL, ADMINISTRATIVE, RESEARCH OR INSTRUCTIONAL CAPACITY A PERSON IS PRESUMED NOT TO HAVE REASONABLE ASSURANCE UNDER AN OFFER THAT IS CONDITIONED ON ENROLLMENT, FUNDING OR PROGRAMMATIC CHANGES. IT IS THE EMPLOYER'S BURDEN TO PROVIDE SUFFICIENT DOCUMENTATION TO OVERCOME THIS PRESUMPTION. REASONABLE ASSURANCE MUST BE DETERMINED ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS BY THE TOTAL WEIGHT OF EVIDENCE RATHER THAN THE EXISTENCE OF ANY ONE FACTOR. PRIMARY WEIGHT MUST BE GIVEN TO THE CONTINGENT NATURE OF AN OFFER OF EMPLOYMENT BASED ON ENROLLMENT, FUNDING AND PROGRAM CHANGES. PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT IN ANY UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROCEEDING A WRIT- TEN LETTER FROM AN EMPLOYER TO AN EMPLOYEE WHICH MAKES EMPLOYMENT CONDI- TIONAL SHALL NOT BE PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE OF REASONABLE ASSURANCE TO BE USED TO DENY A CLAIM FOR UNEMPLOYMENT. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD00773-01-1