A Reminder About New York\'s Notice Requirements for Discharged Employees

September 30, 2010

By: Erin S. Torcello

Most employers that engage in a reduction in force are aware of their obligations under the federal WARN Act, the New York WARN Act, the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and New York’s mini-COBRA statute, and we have posted several times on these topics. Employers should not, however, ignore some of the less popularized obligations to terminated employees created by state law.

For example, Section 195 of the New York Labor Law requires an employer to give an employee written notice of the “exact date” of his or her termination, as well as written notice of the “exact date” of the cancellation of the employee’s benefits. Notice must be provided within five “working” days of the date of the termination.

The Section 195 notice should also include information about employee conversion rights under the employer’s group life insurance plan. In New York, every group life insurance contract must include a conversion right for employees in the event that group coverage is terminated. As a result, when group life insurance coverage will end because an employee is terminated, the employer should provide written notice to that employee that he or she may have the option of converting the group coverage to individual coverage. An employer should advise the employee to contact the insurance provider for more information regarding any conversion rights under the policy.

New York employers must also provide written notice of an employee’s right to file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits. The notice must include the employer’s name, address, and registration number. In addition, employers must advise an employee to present the notice to the New York State Unemployment Insurance Division when he or she files a claim for benefits.