Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Employment Law

1. I’m the employer. Why can’t I designate a worker who wants to be treated as an independent contractor as one?

In New York State, as well as under federal standards, a worker for whom a business exercises direction and control will be deemed to be an employee, even if both the employer and employee prefer an independent contractor relationship. Because of increasing government scrutiny and significant penalties, businesses must pay attention to the issue of misclassifying workers.

2. Do different types of workers still need to be paid at designated intervals?

Yes. New York requires, for example, that manual workers be paid on a weekly basis. Other rules apply to other types of workers.

3. Can I deduct money from my workers’ wages as a penalty for breakage or to recoup money owed to me by the worker?

New York has very stringent rules prohibiting most deductions from wages. Generally, employers may not deduct from wages to compensate for breakage or other obligations, even if the employee authorizes such deduction.

4. What does “employment at will” mean?

In New York, all employees are employed at will unless a contract restricts a business’ right to terminate the employee. This means that the employer can terminate the employee for any reason or no reason at all. However, employers must still obey other protective statutes. For example, the employment at will concept does not protect employers from liability for terminating an employee for a reason that violates the anti-discrimination laws.

5. I’m told that I should have an employee handbook for my business. Is it o.k. to simply download one from the internet?

New York’s requirements and policies differ from those in other states. If a business owner simply copies a handbook off the web, the business may be inviting legal issues that would not otherwise apply in New York. A bit of self help can be a costly proposition. Handbooks should be drafted or reviewed by New York lawyers and should be periodically examined and updated.

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