Ask Joe Eisner: Is a Library Board (association or public) required to grant employees leaves of absence occasioned by medical situations?

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Please note: The following should not be construed as legal advice, for which the services of counsel should be obtained:

Question: Is a Library Board (association or public)  required to grant  employees leaves of absence occasioned by medical situations?

Answer:  Yes. Specific statutes require employers, in certain circumstances,  to grant leaves of absence for the following purposes: Blood donationsBone marrow donations; Cancer screenings for breast and prostate cancer.

1)      Blood Donations

 

“An employer must [emphasis supplied] either, at its option, (a) grant three hours leave of absence in any twelve month period to an employee who seeks to donate blood, provided that the leave of absence may not exceed three hours, unless otherwise agreed to by the employer, and must comply with the requirements established by the commissioner [of labor; see Note below] under…. [Labor Law s202-j(5)]…; or (b) allow its employees without use of accumulated leave time to donate blood during work hours at least two times a year at a convenient time and place set by the employer, including allowing an employee to participate in a blood drive at the employee’s place of employment” (Labor Law s202-j(2)(b)).

 

“Employer” means a person or entity  that employs twenty or more employees  at least one site and includes a …corporation, association, nonprofit organization… county, town, school district… or other governmental subdivision of any kind…” (Labor Law s202-j(1)(b))

 

“Employee means a person who performs services for hire for an employer, for an average of twenty or more hours per week, and includes all individuals employed at any site owned or operated by an employer,  but shall not include an independent contractor” (Labor Law s202-j(1)(a)).

 

NOTE: The Department of Labor has established guidelines for leave required to be granted to employees: Guidelines for Implementation of Employee Blood Donor Leave, https://www.labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/LS703.pdf, last viewed August 19, 2016. These Guidelines… contain provisions governing compensation (employer is not required to provide paid leave except for off-premises donations, or for alternatives  outlined in the Guidelines).

 

2)      Bone Marrow Donations

 

“An employer must [emphasis supplied] grant leaves of absence to an employee who seeks to undergo a medical procedure to donate bone marrow. The combined length of the leaves shall be determined by the physician, but may not exceed twenty-four work hours, unless agreed to by the employer. The employer may require verification by a physician for the purpose and length of each leave requested by the employee to donate bone marrow” (Labor Law s202a-(2)).

 

“An employer shall not retaliate against an employee for requesting or obtaining a leave of absence as provided by the section [above] for the purpose of undergoing a medical procedure to donate bone marrow” (Labor Law s202-a(3)).

 

“The provisions of this section shall not prevent an employer from providing leave for bone marrow donations in addition to leave allowed under any other provision of law. The provisions of this section shall not affect an employee’s rights with respect to any other employee benefit otherwise provided by laws” (Labor Law s 202-a(4)).

 

NOTE: Labor Law s202-a(1provides  definitions of “employer” and “employee” similar to those in Labor Law s202-j(1)(a) and (b) (above).

 

3)      Cancer Screenings

 

Breast Cancer

“Every public officer, … employee of any municipality… or any employee of a participating employer in the New York state and local employees’ retirement system [emphasis supplied]… shall be entitled to absent himself or herself and shall be deemed have a paid [emphasis supplied] leave of absence from his or her duties or service as such public officer… employee of any municipality…, or any employee of a participating employer in the New York state and local employees; retirement system… for a sufficient period of time, not to exceed four hours on an annual basis, to undertake a screening for breast cancer (Civil Service Law s159-b(1)).

 

“The entire period of the leave of absence granted pursuant to this section shall be excused leave and shall not be charged against any other leave such public officer, …employee of any municipality… or any employee of a participating employer in the New York state and local employees’ retirement system… is otherwise entitled to” (Civil Service Law s159-b(2)).

 

Prostate Cancer

“Every public officer, …employee of any municipality, …or any employee of a participating employer in the New York state and local employees’ retirement system [emphasis supplied]… shall be entitled to absent himself and be deemed to have a paid[emphasis supplied] leave of absence for a sufficient period of time, not to exceed four hours on annual basis, to undertake a screening for prostate cancer” (Civil Service Law s159-c(2)).

 

“The entire period of the leave of absence pursuant to this section shall be an excused leave and shall not be charged against any other leave such public officer, …employee of any municipality, …or any employee of a participating employer in the New York state and local employees’ retirement system… is otherwise entitled to” (Civil Service Law s159-c(2)).

 

Note: Although employees of association libraries and cooperative library systems are not subject to the provisions of the Civil Service Law, in a publicity release prior to approving the breast and prostate cancer screening enactment (S 8077A/A10035-A), the Governor stated: “This bill would extend the benefit [of up to four hours of paid leave for prostate and breast cancer screening] to employees of…. employers who participate in the state pension system such as public libraries….” (July 21, 2008). (This legislation does not distinguish between full- and part-time employees.)

Please note: If you have any additional questions about this topic, please contact Joe Eisner at the e-mail/phone above.

 

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