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Employment law basics for remote work employees in New York State

Lisa BabiarzEmployment Law

Employment law basics, including remote work, have significantly changed with the pandemic. Before the year 2020, it was common for every worker to work in an office and very few people worked from home. Now, everything has changed.

According to a 2020 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, 35.2% of people reported that they started working from home during Covid. In today’s business world, office spaces are thought to be an add-on to virtual and remote working.

Remote working has many benefits for both employees and employers. For example, an employer does not need to take any extra action to increase employee happiness, and office costs are automatically reduced.

As in every form of work, there are some legal obligations and rights for both the employer and the employee for remote working. With these legal obligations and rights, the employer can act following tax and company laws, and the workers’ labor is protected.

What is Remote Work?

Remote working is a way that lets employees work from anywhere other than the offices of companies. Even though employees who adopt the remote work system usually work in a workspace at home, there is no rule for where these employees will work.

A person can travel full-time and work at the same time with the remote working system. We sometimes call these workers digital nomads because they don’t have to be in an office or corporate office. Therefore, If you’re a remote worker, you might prefer hotels, beach clubs, cafes, and airports as your new office.

Will the Remote Work System Continue to Be Used?

Remote work is definitely here to stay.

More than 15,000 employees participated in the remote work survey conducted by the Becker-Friedman Institute. According to the results of this longitudinal survey, seventy-six percent of employees who can work from home want to work remotely at least one day a week. Twenty-seven percent of people surveyed want their home to be described as a permanent office.

One of the most important reasons why many people want to switch to the remote working system permanently is that they can get corporate support while also reaping the benefits of being at home with no commute. Since the remote working system is also included in the employment law, it can be said that it is permanently involved in business life.

New York State Employment Law for Remote Workers

The governing federal labor law or employment law in the U.S. is The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 or the FLSA. Think of the FLSA as the Department of Labor’s primary law for the country.

Even with Federal laws in place, some United States employment law differs from state to state.

Since each state has its unemployment system, tax laws, and work patterns, it can be tricky for remote workers to understand their employment rights.

Generally, employers must provide remote employees with the same opportunity as on-site employees. Remote employees must have access to the same training and responsibilities as other employees to be considered for promotions or pay hikes.

Here are a few “must knows” when it comes to Employment Law Basics for Remote Work Employees in New York State:

Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage by law across the United States is $7.25 per hour. Since this limit is the lowest, we can see that the minimum wage is higher in many states. New York is one of these. If you’re a remote worker based in New York state, you can get paid between $12.5 and $15 per hour. If you are working for much less than this fee, you should contact an employment law attorney, as this might be illegal.


Under United States federal law, if an employee works more than 40 hours a week, they must be paid one and a half times per hour worked. However, like changes in the minimum wage, there are different regulations on working hours by state.

If you work more than 40 hours a week in New York state, you must be paid one and a half times per hour. If you don’t, it means you’re not getting paid for your efforts. It is important to note that this law is in place for full-time employees and not contract workers.

Not sure which category you fall into? An employment attorney can help.

Family, Health, and Maternity Leave Rights

Thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees are entitled to unpaid leave due to certain medical and family events. In most cases, employees, including remote workers, can take paid leave for short-term health needs, serious illness, or caring for a sick family member or a newborn child.

In New York, even employees who had to be under quarantine due to the pandemic were given paid sick leave. The same employment law applies to full-time employees working remotely.

Other Remote Employee Rights

  • An employer is obliged to provide a disabled employee with all the equipment that is needed to work from home.
  • According to New York State compensation law if you are working from home and are injured your employer may have to provide compensation.
  • To ensure fair pay, certain cities in the United States, such as New York City, require companies to state the salary range from the start.
  • Employers must be cautious of discrimination based on age, ethnicity, religion, gender, handicap, nationality, pregnancy, and equal pay. During your interview, they must not bring up any of these topics.

For more information about working remotely, you can get help from Littman & Babiarz some of the best employment lawyers in Geneva, Auburn, Ithaca, and Penn Yan,  New York.

What Should You Do If Your Employer Doesn’t Fulfill Its Legal Obligations?

If you are a remote worker and have an issue with an employer that you think qualifies you to take action, you should contact an employment lawyer about this issue.

If you have been denied benefits, experienced a hostile work environment, or been exposed to illegal discrimination, Littman and Babiarz can help. For more information about remote working in employment law and your remote working rights, schedule your free consultation online or at 607-366-5918!