Company Blog

As we try to provide our clients with the most updated information about our firm and the services we provide, we will be providing weekly blog posts about topics of interest to our clients.

Blog Post Image

Municipal employers, remember Civil Service Law when merging job functions.

By Admin |02-15-2017 03:52 |Direct Link

On December 1, 2016, New York’s Third Department reminded of the importance of New York’s Civil Service Law - specific to situations where school districts or municipal employers consolidate job functions to save money. Thornton v. Saugerties Cent. School District, 43 N.Y.S.3d 173 (3d Dep’t 2016).

In Thornton, a five-year school district employee was responsible for overseeing the school district’s student and data management systems. She had no supervisory duties. The district contracted with its area BOCES for more cost-effective data management services, and in so doing her position was eliminated by board of education. The employee’s job duties were assumed by BOCES thereafter.

This employee requested, and the district denied, that she be transferred to BOCES pursuant to New York Civil Service Law. The employee commenced an Article 78 proceeding to challenge the district’s final determination after denying her request.

Pursuant to Civil Service Law § 70(2), “[u]pon the transfer of a function … from one department or agency of the state to another … provision shall be made for the transfer of necessary officers and employees who are substantially engaged in the performance of the function to be transferred.”

An employee is only “necessary” when the agency or department to which the employee’s function is being transferred does not have sufficient staff at the time to perform those additional duties being transferred.

The school district, to demonstrate that its former employee was not “necessary” as defined by the statute, provided an affidavit from BOCES stating the duties assumed from the former employee were handled exclusively by already-existing BOCES employees, and that BOCES made no new hires to assist it in performing these duties. The district superintendent also attested that no new employees were hired by the district to replace the former employee and that the consolidation was done primarily due to budgetary constraints. The Court was satisfied and found the former employee was not a “necessary” employee; affirming the denial of her motion for a trial.

Thornton demonstrates the sensitivity and awareness municipal employers must maintain when consolidating, downsizing, reorganizing, restructuring or cooperating to save costs on services. It also shines light on what could otherwise be problematic when employers mask wrongful terminations behind budget constraints. The outcome of this case may very well have been different had BOCES hired additional staff to handle these additional services or if the district restructured in-house and needed to hire part-time help to navigate those tasks of the former employee.

It is also important to note that, pursuant to the Civil Service Law, there are also mandated posting requirements and statutory appeals processes within which an employer and employee must comply.

Blog Post Image

Easier Than You Think: Trusts Are Not Just for the Wealthy

By Admin |05-04-2016 08:54 |Direct Link

It is a common misconception that trusts are complicated, lengthy, and expensive. They are not, however, as scary or difficult to compose as many believe. Being rich is not a requirement, nor should wealth alone be the determining factor.

A professional should be able to adequately educate the client on the benefits and risks associated with different plans of action or estate planning. The client then, with the proposed knowledge, can make an educated decision based on three criteria: 1) the cost of formation in relation to client’s level of wealth, 2) the type of assets the client possesses, and 3) the amount of control the client desires. If drafted properly, a simple trust can be just as effective as a complex trust, while still staying within an acceptable range of financial value in light of the client’s means and needs.

The most common type of trust used in estate planning today is the revocable living trust, also known as the inter vivos trust. In its most basic form, the client names him/herself trustee, for which he/she act as trustee and beneficiary during his/her lifetime. Upon death, a successor assumes trust management. Mandatory information in the trust will tell who (as beneficiaries) can receive principal and/or income from the trust.

The opposite of an inter vivos trust is the testamentary trust. A testamentary trust is a trust created by a will and becomes effective upon death. These trusts may be an effective tool for smaller gifts, however to properly manage a larger asset, more comprehensive trust language is necessary.

One of the strongest criticisms of trusts when dealing with a client is that the client is being oversold. With difficult language and unethical prices, certain providers have claimed some clients victim. But that need not be the case.

Trusts can contain very complex language, but they also can be as simple as an outline for the distribution of a single asset. With just a few modifications, the same forms can contain all the language necessary to help a range of clientele, while not posing such a strain on the wallet.

In any regard, a trust can result in significant savings for the client, reduce the administrative costs after death, increase privacy, and ultimately give clients far greater control over the who, what, when, and why in the distribution of assets.

Blog Post Image

New York State Passes 12-Week Paid Family Leave Law

By Admin |04-29-2016 11:25 |Direct Link

The nations’ longest and most comprehensive paid family leave policy has recently passed in New York. On April 4, 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation adopting the 12-week Paid Leave Law for New York State employees. The Paid Leave Law will provide employees with up to twelve weeks of paid family leave for purposes of caring for a new child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or relieving family pressures when a family member is called to active military service.
Employees are required to have worked for their employer for a minimum of six months to be eligible for the paid leave benefit. Unlike NYS Disability where there is a waiting period before employees begin to receive benefits, Paid Family Leave will be available the first full day the leave is required for eligible employees. At the federal level, the Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees unpaid leave of 12 weeks, but nearly half of workers are not covered; companies that employ fewer than 50 people or employees that work part time are not bound by this law.
Always the big question when a new policy is passed: Who’s going to pay for it? New York workers will initially have $0.70 per week deducted from their paychecks. This amount may increase nearer to $1.00 as the policy plays out. This will aid employers as they will not be directly funding paid leave benefits. However, employers should note that internal policies will inadvertently change in relation to employee absences.
The paid family leave policy will be implemented gradually over a four year period. Beginning January 1, 2018, employees will be eligible for eight weeks of paid leave, in which they will earn 50% of their weekly pay (capped at 50% of the statewide average weekly pay). Amount paid and weeks of leave will increase until 2021, upon which employees will be eligible for twelve weeks of paid leave, earning 67% of their weekly pay (capped at 67% of the statewide average weekly pay).
Paid leave care for a new child, including an adoptive or foster child, is available for both men and women. This time can be taken any time within the first twelve months of the child’s birth, or twelve months after the placement or adoption. Leave care for a family member includes that for a child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, spouse, or domestic partner.

Show Older Posts