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NYS Sexual Harassment Prevention Compliance

An employer's guide to the law, how it works and what resources are available to them to install processes that ensure compliance.

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Compliance is Easier Than You Might Think

Let's start here. If you're an employer, you've probably been on the receiving end of a multitude of solicitations from companies using fear tactics to sell you custom policy and training solutions that cost a lot of money.

Before you sign any contracts, we recommend first familiarizing yourself with the law, how it works and all of the free resources New York State has already made available to its employers. We explain this in more detail in the video below:

 

 

Option 1: Do it by yourself, for free.

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.

And the State has already developed resources for employers to administer the compliance procedures required by the law on their own.

Policy

Employers can use this model policy template to share with all of their employees. If you want to develop your own company policy, it must meet or exceed these minimum standards as provided by New York State.

Employee Complaint Form

Employers can use this complaint form to share with all of their employees. This is the state-compliant form employees can use if they ever need to file a sexual harassment complaint.

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. Employers can read these model training instructions. Then they can use this model training slide deck when actually administering the sexual harassment prevention training with all of their employees.

The videos below, which may be watched via YouTube or downloaded, meet all state minimum training requirements except one: the videos alone are NOT considered interactive. If you are using this video to meet the training requirements, you must also:

  • ask questions of employees as part of the program;
  • accommodate questions asked by employees, with answers provided in a timely manner;
  • or require feedback from employees about the training and the materials presented.

During this interactive portion, employers should be prepared to address questions raised by employees including those specific to their industry, questions about the organization’s reporting process and questions about how hypothetical cases would be handled.

 

 

Labor Law Posting (Optional)

New York State has also provided employers with a posting they can tack up next to their standard labor law poster to provide notice to employees about the law and who they can contact if they need to report an incident of sexual harassment in the workplace. This poster, which is an optional tool, is one way to direct both employees and non-employees to your Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy and should be displayed in a highly visible place. Download it here.

Option 2: Manage it yourself, but with some paid support.

So you know you can comply with the law by yourself, for free, using the State-issued materials. But what if you don't feel comfortable administering the training yourself? Or what if you just don't have the time?

No problem. Complete Payroll offers solutions to help you with the compliance aspects of the New York State Sexual Harassment Prevention Law.

Policy & Training

Complete Payoll can provide you with custom, fully-compliant policy notices and a training video with your company's logo and information. This training video will be customized with your company information and is fully-compliant with the 2018 New York State sexual harassment prevention training standards. The cost of this policy and training package is $500.

HR Support

Complete Payroll's HR On-Demand service offers access to exclusive, industry-leading HR tools and resources, including unlimited access to certified HR pros who can answer your questions about any HR-related matter, including the NYS Sexual Harassment Prevention Law. The cost of this subscription is $50 per month.

Live Web Training + Policy & Training

This is the ideal option if you know you don't have time and you're not comfortable with administering the sexual harassment prevention training. Starting at $1,900, Complete Payroll can provide you with customized live, virtual training for your employees. This solution also includes Complete Payroll's fully-compliant training video and policy notices for each of your employees.

Download our employer compliance checklist.

Download the Checklist

Requirements Overview

Here's a quick overview of the requirements all employers must meet under the New York State Sexual Harassment Prevention Law.

Employer Overview - Complete Payroll

Employer Overview

Policy - Complete Payroll

Policy

Employee's Complaint Form - Complete Payroll

Employee's Complaint Form

Training - Complete Payroll

Training

poster

Posting (Optional)

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.

NYS Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy - Complete Payroll

1. Sharing the Policy with Your Employees

Employers can use this model policy template to share with all of their employees. If you want to develop your own company policy, it must meet or exceed these minimum standards as provided by New York State. OR, Complete Payoll can provide you with custom, fully-compliant policy notices for each of your employees. The cost for this service is $75 plus $1 per employee.

NYS Sexual Harassment Prevention Complaint Form - Complete Payroll

2. Sharing the Complaint Form with Your Employees

Employers can use this complaint form to share with all of their employees. This is the state-compliant form employees can use if they ever need to file a sexual harassment complaint.

NYS Sexual Harassment Prevention Training - Complete Payroll

3. Providing the Required Training to All Employees

Employers can read these model training instructions. Then they can use this model training slide deck when actually administering the sexual harassment prevention training with all of their employees. OR, Complete Payroll can provide you with a custom training video ($500) or end-to-end compliance solution that includes live, web-based training ($1,900).

Frequently Asked Questions

Browse the answers to frequently asked questions about the policy, training and general employer matters. We sourced these questions and answers directly from the New York State website here.

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.

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, the 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 

Any one of the above examples would meet the minimum requirement for being interactive. 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.

What type of records must employers maintain to verify compliance?

No signed acknowledgment of having read the policy is required, but employers are encouraged to keep a signed acknowledgment 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 the mandated New York City training meet the training requirements of the New York State Law?

The New York City Commission on Human Rights is partnered with the New York State Division of Human Rights and the New York State Department of Labor so NYC-based employers can meet compliance with both the New York State and New York City training requirements by using the online training provided by the New York City Commission on Human Rights. New York City's online training is available here.

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.

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Contact Us

Before you sign any contracts, we recommend first familiarizing yourself with the law, how it works and all of the free resources New York State has already made available to its employers.

If you have any questions about the law, or would like help with any of the compliance measures (policy, complaint form, training, etc.) please use the form to get in touch with us.

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