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New York Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy and Training - The Employer's Guide to Compliance

A simple, yet comprehensive resource page that guides employers through all the steps to properly comply with the new sexual harassment prevention law, which among other things requires employers to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy and provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all employees.

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Watch the Introduction

Sections

    Overview of the Law

    As part of its 2019 budget, New York State has finalized new requirements designed to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace which are among the strictest in the nation. They key components of the law are as follows:

    • Employers must establish a formal sexual harassment prevention policy and share it with all employees.
    • The policy must also include and share a complaint form with employees that can be used to file formal sexual harassment complaints.
    • Employers must also provide mandatory sexual harassment prevention training to all employees on an annual basis.

    The policy and complaint form must be adopted and shared with employees by October 9, 2018. The annual training must be in place by October 9, 2019, exactly one year later.

    About this Page

    This page breaks down all the employer and employee-related details of the law in its simplest terms. It also includes state-issued checklists and minimum standards guidelines to help employers develop policies and training programs on their own should they choose to. To learn more, watch the video below. 

    Compliance Made Easy

    Two of the three key employer compliance measures are already made very easy. Employers are required to adopt and share a sexual harassment prevention policy as well as an employee complaint form. New York State has already released model templates for both of those requirements. Any employer can download those templates, add their unique business information and share as instructed by the State to ensure compliance. You can download those two templates here:

    The training component is likely to require more effort from employers. The law requires employers in New York State to provide mandatory sexual harassment prevention training to all employees on an annual basis. Most employers in the state don't already have a solution for this. However, Complete Payroll has a solution for this. Submit the form on the bottom of the page to learn more about our Sexual Harassment Prevention Training solution.

    Complete Payroll has a solution for this. Submit the form on the bottom of the page to learn more about our Sexual Harassment Prevention Training solution.

    Employer Requirements

    Overview

    New York State has issued new requirements designed to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. The key components of the law are as follows:

    • Employers must establish a formal sexual harassment prevention policy and share it with all employees.
    • The policy must also include and share a complaint form with employees that can be used to file formal sexual harassment complaints.
    • Employers must also provide mandatory sexual harassment prevention training to all employees on an annual basis.

    1. Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy

    Every employer in New York State is required to adopt a formal sexual harassment prevention policy by October 9, 2018, according to the new law. In consultation with the Division of Human Rights, the New York State Department of Labor has established a model sexual harassment prevention policy for employers to adopt.

    Employers may also choose to adopt their own policy, provided it meets or exceeds the minimum standards of the model policy issued by New York State.

    2. Sexual Harassment Complaint Form

    New York State also requires the sexual harassment prevention policy to include a formal complaint form that must be shared with all employees by October 9, 2018. If an employee believes they have become a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, the are encouraged to complete this form. Even if the employee reports the sexual harassment verbally or through another manner, employers are still required to complete the complaint form on the employee's behalf.

    New York State has not released any minimum guidelines for the complaint form, which leads us to believe - unlike for the policy and training requirements - employers must use the formal complaint form issued by the state and therefore may not adopt their own version of it.

    3. Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

    Additionally, all employers in New York State are required to provide mandatory sexual harassment prevention training to all employees on an annual basis, effective October 9, 2019. Just like the model policy and complaint form, New York State has also released a sexual harassment prevention training model.

    Employers may also choose to implement their own annual sexual harassment prevention training, provided it meets or exceeds the minimum standards developed by the New York State Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights.

    For Employees

    The New Requirements

    The new Sexual Harassment Prevention law in New York State creates minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention policies (which include a formal employee complaint form) and annual training.

    All employers in New York State are required to adopt the state’s model policy and training OR create their own policy and annual training program based on those models, provided they meet or exceed the minimum standards established by the state.

    Policy and Training

    Your employer must distribute the policy, in writing, to you and every employee in your company or organization. They also must provide you with interactive training about sexual harassment prevention on an annual basis.

    Filing a Complaint

    If you believe that you've been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, you are encouraged to complete a formal complaint form, issued standard by New York State. You may still report the alleged harassment verbally or in another matter, but your employer is still required to complete the complaint form, provide you with a copy and investigate the claim(s) in accordance with the sexual harassment prevention policy.

    Legal Protections and Support

    In addition to your employer's internal process, you may also pursue legal action with certain government entities. You don't need a private attorney to file a sexual harassment complaint with a government agency, but you may seek the legal advice of an attorney if you choose.

    New York State has also made available a list of organizations that provide various services and resources related to sexual harassment and workplace discrimination.

    To learn more about this law, how to file a complaint, and what legal protections and support are available to you, download the Sexual Harassment Prevention Employee Toolkit here.

    NYS Sexual Harassment Prevention - Employee Workers Portal

    View the Employee Portal

    Click here to access the page on New York State's website dedicated to employee and worker information related to the law.

    NYS Sexual Harassment Prevention - Employee Workers Portal (1)

    Download the Employee Toolkit

    Click here to download the Employee Toolkit. A 3-page PDF document that explains the new regulations and employee rights.

    Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy

    Basic Requirements

    Every employer in New York State is required to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy and share it with all employees by October 9, 2018. There are two ways to accomplish this:

    1. Employers may simply use the model policy issued by New York State.
    2. Or, employers may adopt their own sexual harassment prevention policy, provided it meets or exceeds the minimum standards established by New York State.

    We've outlined how employers can do each below.

    Using the Model Policy

    In consultation with the Division of Human Rights, the New York State Department of Labor has established a model sexual harassment prevention policy for employers to adopt. Using this policy would ensure compliance for this specific component of the law. You can download the model policy below.

    NYS Sexual Harassment Prevention Model Policy - PDF

    Sexual Harassment Prevention Model Policy [PDF]

    Download the model policy issued by New York State in PDF form.

    NYS Sexual Harassment Prevention Model Policy - Docx

    Sexual Harassment Prevention Model Policy [Docx]

    Download the model policy issued by New York State in Docx form.

    Developing Your Own Policy - Minimum Standards

    As previously stated, employers may adopt their own sexual harassment prevention policy, provided it meets or exceeds the minimum standards established by New York State.

    According to the minimum standards issued by New York State, the sexual harassment prevention policy must:

    • prohibit sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights.

    • provide examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment.

    • include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, and a statement that there may be applicable local laws.

    • include a complaint form.

    • include a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties.

    • inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially.

    • clearly state that sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against individuals engaging in sexual harassment and against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue.

    • clearly state that retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful.

    Below we've included two resources that will be helpful to employers that choose to develop and adopt their own sexual harassment prevention policies.
    Minimum Standards For Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies

    Minimum Standards For Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies

    Download the Minimum Standards For Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies issued by New York State.

    Sexual Harassment Prevention Toolkit For Employers

    Sexual Harassment Prevention Toolkit For Employers

    Download the Sexual Harassment Prevention Toolkit For Employers, designed to help with compliance.

    Poster Notice - Recommended

    New York State has also given employers an added ability to direct both employees and non-employees to their sexual harassment prevention policy through a labor law notice. This poster, which is an optional tool, should be displayed in a highly visible area within the workplace, likely next to wherever your current labor law poster(s) are displayed.

    You can download the sexual harassment prevention policy poster notice here.

    Model Employee Complaint Form

    Download and Use the Complaint Form

    New York State also requires the sexual harassment prevention policy to include a formal complaint form that must be shared with all employees by October 9, 2018. If an employee believes they have become a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, the are encouraged to complete this form. Even if the employee reports the sexual harassment verbally or through another manner, employers are still required to complete the complaint form on the employee's behalf.

    New York State has not released any minimum guidelines for the complaint form, which leads us to believe - unlike for the policy and training requirements - employers must use the formal complaint form issued by the state and therefore may not adopt their own version of it.

    Combat Harassment Complaint Form [PDF]

    Combat Harassment Complaint Form [PDF]

    Download the model complaint form [PDF version] to share with your employees.

    Combat Harassment Complaint Form [Docx]

    Combat Harassment Complaint Form [Docx]

    Download the model complaint form [Docx version] to share with your employees.

    Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

    About the Employee Training Requirements

    All employers in New York State are required to provide mandatory sexual harassment prevention training to all employees on an annual basis, effective October 9, 2019. Just like the model policy and complaint form, New York State has also released a sexual harassment prevention training model.

    Employers may also choose to implement their own annual sexual harassment prevention training, provided it meets or exceeds the minimum standards developed by the New York State Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights.

    Using the Model Training

    In consultation with the Division of Human Rights, the New York State Department of Labor has established model sexual harassment prevention training for employers to adopt. Using this training would ensure compliance for this specific component of the law. You can download the model training requirements below.

    Model Training - PDF

    Model Training and Employer Instructions [PDF]

    Download the model training and instructions for administering the training with your employees in PDF form.

    Model Training - Docx

    Model Training and Employer Instructions [Docx]

    Download the model training and instructions for administering the training with your employees in Docx form.

    Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Presentation Slide Decks

    New York State has also provided presentation slide decks - in both PDF and PowerPoint formats - for employers that choose to administer the training themselves. It is important to note that these presentation decks alone are not enough to satisfy the training requirements. Before administering the sexual harassment prevention training with employees, employers must read the model training guidelines (above) to ensure the training sessions themselves meet the standards required by New York State.

    Slide Deck - Sexual Harassment Prevention Training - PDF

    Slide Deck - Sexual Harassment Prevention Training [PDF]

    Download the model slide deck you can use for sexual harassment prevention training with your employees in PDF form.

    Slide Deck - Sexual Harassment Prevention Training - PPT

    Slide Deck - Sexual Harassment Prevention Training [PPT]

    Download the model slide deck you can use for sexual harassment prevention training with your employees as a PowerPoint.

    Conducting Your Own Training - Minimum Standards

    As previously stated, employers may conduct their own sexual harassment prevention training, provided it meets or exceeds the minimum standards established by New York State.

    According to the minimum standards issued by New York State, the sexual harassment prevention training must:

    • be interactive.

    • include an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights.

    • include examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment .

    • include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.

    • include information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints.

    • include information addressing conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities for such supervisors.

    Each employee must receive training on an annual basis, starting October 9, 2018.

    Minimum Standards for Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

    Minimum Standards for Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

    Download the Minimum Standards for Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, for employers conducting their own training.

    Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Case Studies

    Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Case Studies

    Download an overview of Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Case Studies, for employers conducting their own training.

    FAQs

    Sourced Directly from New York State

    All of these Frequently Asked Questions - both questions and answers - were pulled directly from New York State's website for its new Sexual Harassment Prevention Law. You can visit that FAQ page here.

    Policy FAQs

    How can employers provide their policy to employees?

    Employers must provide employees with their policy in writing or electronically. If a copy is made available on a work computer, workers must be able to print a copy for their own records. 

    Is there any employer responsibility to train third-party vendors or other non-employees who interact one-time or regularly in an office located in New York State?

    No.  However, posting a copy of your policy in an area that is highly visible further communicates your effort as a responsible employer.

    What should I do if a temporary employee is being harassed by an employee of another company?

    In such circumstances, you should inform both the company and the temporary employee’s firm.  However, if you are able to take action in order to prevent or end such harassment you should do so, as outlined in the policy.

    What policy, if any, must be provided to contractors, subcontractors, vendors and consultants?

    Employers do not have to provide any policy to independent contractors, vendors or consultants as such individuals are not employees of the employer. However, the State Human Rights Law imposes liability on the employer for their actions, and you are encouraged to provide the policy and training to anyone providing services in the workplace.

    If an employer already has established investigative procedures which are similar, but not identical to those provided in the model, can the employer deviate from these specific requirements and remain compliant with the law?

    Yes. But the investigative procedures that the employer will be using should be outlined in the employer’s policy.

    Does the complaint form need to be included, in full, in the policy?

    No. Employers should, however, be clear about where the form may be found, for example, on a company’s internal website.

    Training FAQs

    Who is considered an Employee for the training requirement? And when does the training need to be completed?

    “Employee” includes all workers, regardless of immigration status. Employee also includes exempt or non-exempt employees, part-time workers, seasonal workers, and temporary workers.  All employees must complete the model training or a comparable training that meets the minimum standards by Oct. 9, 2019.

    How often must employees receive sexual harassment training?

    Employees must be trained at least once per year. In subsequent years, this may be based on the calendar year, anniversary of each employee’s start date, or any other date the employer chooses.

    How soon do new employees need to be trained?

    As employers may be liable for the actions of employees immediately upon hire, the State encourages training as soon as possible. Employers should distribute the policy to employees prior to commencing work and should have it posted.

    If an employer has previously provided training that meets or exceeds the requirements, must employees be retrained?

    Employees must receive training on an annual basis. If employees have already received training this year, but it did NOT meet all new requirements, employers need only provide supplemental training to ensure all requirements are met. 

    Is there a minimum number of training hours employees must complete each year?

    No, as long as they receive training that meets or exceeds the minimum standards.

    What are the obligations of employment agencies? What about employees who received the same training from another employer within the past year?

    The law requires that employers provide a sexual harassment prevention policy and training on an annual basis to all employees. An employer may choose to deem the training requirement satisfied if a new employee can verify completion through a previous employer or through a temporary help firm.

    An agency or any other worker organization (e.g. labor union) may choose to provide training to workers, however, the employer may still be liable for the employee’s conduct and understanding of policies and should train the employee on any nuances and processes specific to the company or industry.

    I am an employer based in New York State but also have employees who only work in other states. Do they need to be trained as well?

    No. Only employees who work or will work in New York State need to be trained. However, if an individual works a portion of their time in New York State, even if they’re based in another state, they must be trained.

    Are minor employees (e.g., child actors) required to take sexual harassment training?

    Yes. However, those employing children under the age of 14 may opt to simplify the training and policy while still meeting the minimum requirements.

    What does “interactive training” mean?

    New York State law requires all sexual harassment training to be interactive. Training may be online, so long as it is interactive. Examples of employee participation include:

    • If the training is web-based, it has questions at the end of a section and the employee must select the right answer;
    • If the training is web-based, the employees have an option to submit a question online and receive an answer immediately or in a timely manner; 
    • In an in-person or live training, the presenter asks the employees questions or gives them time throughout the presentation to ask questions;
    • Web-based or in-person trainings that provide a Feedback Survey for employees to turn in after they have completed the training 

    An individual watching a training video or reading a document only, with no feedback mechanism or interaction, would NOT be considered interactive.

    Is a live trainer required and does a trainer need to have a certification?

    While a best practice for effective and engaging trainings, a live trainer is not specifically required. Live trainers may appear in person or via phone, video conference, etc. No certification is required and the State does not currently certify or license training providers.

    May I use a third-party vendor to provide training? How do I ensure it meets the standards?

    You may use a third-party vendor or organization, or deliver the training by existing employees or managers. You should review any third-party training to ensure it meets or exceeds the minimum standards required under the law.

    Are there different training requirements for employees in managerial/supervisory roles?

    Employers must make managers and supervisors as well as all employees aware of the extra requirements for those in managerial/supervisory roles. The model training does address the additional requirements, and employers may choose to provide additional or separate training to supervisors and managers.

    What happens if some employees fail to take the training despite an employer’s best efforts to make it available, and to require everyone to take it?

    Employers are required to ensure that all employees receive training on an annual basis. Employers may take appropriate administrative remedies to ensure compliance. 

    Are businesses required to pay workers for the time spent in training, for instance, during the onboarding process before their actual assignment begins?

    Employers must follow federal regulations (see e.g., 29 CFR 785.27-785.32), which generally require that employer-provided training time is counted as regular work hours.

    How does the Sexual Harassment Prevention training time impact the Hospitality Wage Order’s 80/20 rule?

    Like other mandatory trainings, this does not impact the percentage in the Order and should be treated in line with other employer trainings. It should be either added in line with the existing proportion or training hours should be excluded from the 80/20 calculation.

    Are sections in the model training materials that are not expressly required in the law mandatory?

    No, but they are strongly recommended. In addition, employers are encouraged to exceed the minimum training requirements.

    General Employer FAQs

    Will the State offer workshops and webinars?

    Yes. Dates for training sessions will be announced soon on this website.

    What type of records must employers maintain to verify compliance?

    No signed acknowledgement of having read the policy is required, but employers are encouraged to keep a signed acknowledgement and to keep a copy of training records. These records may be helpful in addressing any future complaints or lawsuits.

    Does this law apply to New York City employers?

    Yes. It applies to all employers in New York State, including New York City.

    Will New York State make resources available for training in languages other than English?

    Yes. Finalized materials will be translated into Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Bengali, Russian, Italian, Polish and Haitian-Creole as quickly as possible and available on this website. Additional languages may be added in the future

    Am I required to provide the policy and training in languages other than English?

    Yes. Employers should provide employees with training in the language spoken by their employees. Model materials will be translated in accordance with Executive Order 26, Statewide Language Access Policy. When a template training is not available from the State in an employee’s primary language, the employer may provide that employee an English-language version. However, as employers may be held liable for the conduct of all of their employees, employers are strongly encouraged to provide a policy and training in the language spoken by the employee.

    Get Compliance Help

    Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

    New York State has issued strict requirements for the mandatory sexual harassment prevention training that all employers must provide to all of their employees on a regular basis. 

    Complete Payroll is currently developing a training solution to help employers satisfy this requirement and stay compliant with the new law. If you are interested in this product, watch the video and complete the form below and we'll let you know as soon as this training product is available for purchase.

    Get Notified When Our Training is Released

     

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