Each year since 2015 the HR department at my company has asked all employees to sign a form similar to this Notice and Acknowledgement of Pay Rate and Payday Under Section 195.1 of the New York State Labor Law form.
When I was first asked to sign the form, an HR employee pulled it out of a large pile of forms. The pile contained one form for each employee of the company, and every form had an employee's name and salary pre-filled in. I also observed that the pile was left out on a desk and easily accessible in case anyone wanted to just browse through the pile and check people's salaries.
Being that I'm highly sensitive when it comes to information security issues and confidential information like salaries, I was concerned about the privacy implications of the existence of this pile of documents. I took my form but asked why all employees were being asked to sign these. I was told by the HR employee that, "it's required by law."
So I looked into it and found this page on the official New York State website which stated that starting on 4/9/2011 employers were required to
"give written notice of wage rates to each new hire."
However, an update was posted at the top of the page (and still exists as of 6/14/2019) stating that on 12/29/2014 the Governor of New York State signed a bill eliminating the requirement that
"employers notify and receive written acknowledgement from every worker about their rate of pay, allowances, pay day, etc,"
annually, effective immediately. It also mentioned that,
"businesses are still required to notify employees as required at the time of hire."
Screenshot of the notice:
I also found this FAQ for employers which addresses what happens if an employee refuses to sign:
- What if a worker refuses to sign the notice?
The employer should still give the notice to the worker and note the worker’s refusal on its copy of the notice.
So given that:
I was hired prior to 2011 (before the law requiring new hires to sign the form first came about)
I confirmed that the law no longer required existing employees to sign the form annually as of 12/29/2014
I confirmed that even prior to 12/29/2014, employees were not actually required to sign the form
I was concerned about how the combination of my name and salary being easily-accessible to other employees, and that it may have already been revealed to other employees for all I know
I was concerned of where this pile of documents was before I learned of it and where it will go afterwards (I assumed the document would end up in some file cabinet somewhere, which may or may not have restricted access).
I am a firm believer in paperwork reduction and digitization and I believe all official correspondence should always be facilitated through secure electronic systems with identity authentication controls rather than printed papers and handwritten signatures.
I decided not to sign the form, and also kept it for my own records instead of returning it to their pile.
My actions caused the HR employee to become very angry with me and they began yelling at me in front of other employees that I was "being difficult," and also threatened to report my noncompliance to the HR director. I calmly and professionally attempted to explain to them why I made that decision (the bullet points I listed above) but they refused to listen and went to report me anyway.
I didn't hear anything after that so I emailed the HR director directly and reported that I'd been asked to sign that printed form and I explained my concerns as to why I didn't want to do that. They responded and said that they, "could not force" me to sign the document and said they would send me a copy indicating that I chose not to sign. They also mentioned that they recently had an audit, and will continue to have audits, in which they are required to produce these forms for random employees. They then later emailed me a copy of the un-signed form with a note that I refused to sign it (as they were required to).
That was back in 2015, but today I was informed by the HR department that they still require all employees to fill out these forms annually and they just haven't been asking me to sign them each year because of my previous refusal to do so in 2015. I reiterated my concerns, primarily the one about how I'm not OK with the fact that papers with my name and salary are still being generated each year and are likely easily accessible to anyone at the office.
So while they have not been requiring me to sign them, they have also not been giving me copies of the form with confirmation of my refusal to sign.
So my questions are:
Was I wrong to point out to them that the forms are no longer required by law for existing employees annually?
Will I be in any legal trouble for refusing to sign the form(s)?
If the company is audited would they have any legal issues if they haven't been providing me the forms with notice of my refusal to sign?