Employment and labor laws comprise some of the most complex and extensive laws, not only in New York but in other states as well. Therefore, it is very critical for you, as an employer, to be cognizant of what laws, whether local or federal, apply to specific employment issues and jurisdictions, especially owing to the ubiquity of an explosion in lawsuits in the U.S., which has been coherent with a public obsession for litigation, a growing lawyer population, and the enactment of new laws and amendments of others.

Under this context, this blog is an overview of a myriad of requirements concerning recordkeeping and record retention for employers under the New York Workers’ Compensation Law (NYWCL), an important state employment law in New York, in relation to its applicability to employment issues such as workers’ compensation, among others. Accordingly, some of the key elements identified include applicable statutes of the NYWCL, types of records required to be retained by employers under this law, duration of which records must be retained, penalties and citation for failure to comply, and other relevant information for employer concerning compliance with requirements for recordkeeping and the retention of records.

However, it is crucial to mention that the information provided herein does not address requirements for the retention of records when a complaint or charge has been filed by an employee under the New York Workers’ Compensation Law. Nonetheless, although the requirements may apply to both public and private employers, the information is intended for the latter.

That being said, let us dive right in.

Types of Records that Must be Retained Pursuant to the NYWCL

Employers in New York are required to maintain and retain two records pursuant to the NYWCL, namely (1) injury records and (2) payroll records.

On the one hand, pursuant to N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law § 110(1), an employer must maintain an accurate and true record of any illness or injury an employee incurred during his/her employment, as long as the employer is required to provide benefits under the NYWCL. It is crucial to note that the required injury record must include (1) the name and nature of the employer’s business, (2) the location of the employer’s place of work or establishment, (3) the name, occupation, and address of the injured employee, (4) the cause, nature, and time the injury occurred, and (5) any other relevant information that the Chairperson of the New York Workers’ Compensation Board may need to be provided.

On the other hand, pursuant to N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law § 131(1), all employers covered by this law are required to maintain and retain accurate and true payroll records. Accordingly, such records must specify a number of things, including (1) wages paid, (2) classification of employees, (3) the count of employees working for the employer, and (4) data concerning employee accidents.

Duration of Retention Requirements Pursuant to the NYWCL

On the one hand, N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law § 110(1) requires illness and injury records to be retained for up to 18 years. On the other hand, N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law § 131 requires payroll records to be retained for a duration of four years after every entry.

Penalties and/or Citations Following Failure to Comply

Pursuant to N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law § 110(4), any employer who neglects or fails to maintain and retain the required illness and/or injury records is found guilty of a misdemeanor and can be required to pay up to $1000 in fines.

Similarly, pursuant to N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law § 131(1), in addition to additional fines that may be deemed appropriate by law, an employer who does not maintain or willfully or intentionally fails to retain and provide payroll records as required under the NYWCL is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be required to pay between $5000 and $10000 in fines, except that such an employer liable for criminal punishment for violating the law within the previous ten years before the current violation is guilty of a class E felony and may be required to pay between $10000 and $25000 in fines.

Other Key Information for Compliance

As a key part of compliance, employers are required to ensure that all payrolls, records, and books are readily available for inspection, pursuant to N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law § 233, by the employee or any designated officer or Chairperson of the NYWCL Board to ascertain (1) the count of employees, (2) the aggregate of wages, (3) the accuracy and correctness of all information appropriate to administer the NYWCL’s Disability Benefits Article.

Additionally, N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law § 110(1) mandates that the Chairperson of the New York Workers’ Compensation Board can review and inspect any required payroll record at any time, and, thus, the employer must ensure that such required records are readily available. Moreover, for the purpose of verifying the correctness and accuracy of the information contained therein, N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law § 131(1) requires such payroll records to be open for inspection and review as often as necessary and at any time any authorized rating board(s) of the workers’ compensation insurance, group trust, inspectors of the employer’s insurance carrier, accountants, auditors, and investigators of the NYWCL Board.

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Isaac T.,

Legal Writer, Author, & Publisher.