New Guidelines Under New York’s Employee Blood Donation Leave Law

The New York Department of Labor recently issued guidelines for employee blood donation leave under New York State Labor Law Section 202-j. That law, which went to effect late last year, requires companies with twenty or more employees to allow employees to take time off to donate blood. Those companies must choose either to allow employees at least one leave of absence of up to 3 hours each year to donate blood (off-premises blood donation leave), or allow employees to donate blood during work hours at least twice a year at a “convenient time and place set by the employer,” such as allowing employees to participate in a blood drive at their place of employment, without having to use accumulated leave time (on-premises blood donation leave).

The New York Department of Labor’s new guidelines provide additional detail regarding the rights and requirements of New York’s blood donation leave law. For example, they indicate that:

Off-Premises Blood Donation Leave:

  • Employers are not required to pay employees during off-premises blood donation leaves.
  • The right to take off-premises blood donation leave is based on a calendar year, meaning that covered employers that elect off-premises blood donation leave must permit employees to take at least one such leave during each calendar.

On-Premises Blood Donation Leave:

  • Employers cannot require employees to use accumulated vacation, personal, sick, or other leave time for on-premises blood donation leave.
  • The right to take leave is based on a calendar year, meaning that covered employers that elect on-premises blood donation leave must offer employees two on-premises blood donation leaves during each calendar year.
  • The requirement that on-premises blood donation leave must be at a “convenient time” means during an employees’ normal scheduled work hours.
  • The requirement that on-premises blood donation leave must be at a “convenient place” means employers cannot require employees to travel an unreasonable distance.
  • Covered employers must offer an alternative option for employees who are unable to participate in an on-premises blood donation leave, such as when an employee is sick or on vacation during a scheduled company blood drive.
  • Covered companies must give employees who donate blood at an on-premises blood donation leave enough time off to donate blood, recover (including eating something after donating blood), and return to work.
  • Covered employers must prominently post notice of any on-premises blood donation leave at least two weeks in advance.
  • Companies cannot schedule an on-premises blood donation leave when a significant number of employees are out of the office, such as during the last week of December or around other major holidays.

Required Notice of Employees’ Rights:

  • Employers must notify employees in writing of their right to take blood donation leave in a place that ensures employees will see it, such as by posting the information prominently in a place where employees gather, or including the information with employees’ paychecks or in the employee handbook.
  • Employers can require employees to give advance notice of when they plan to take a blood donation leave. Ordinarily, employers can require employees to give up to 3 workdays’ notice before taking an off-premises blood donation leave, or 2 days notice before an employee participates in an on-premises blood donation leave. However, employers can require up to 10 working days advance notice if necessary because the employee’s position is essential to the company’s operation, and employees can give less than 3 days’ notice if they are donating blood because of an emergency surgery of the employee him or his or her family member.

The employment lawyers at Rabner Baumgart Ben-Asher & Nirenberg are dedicated to enforcing the employment law and civil rights of employees in New York and New Jersey.