One Day Rest in Seven-Sec. 161 NYS Labor Law


I have a question regarding the One Day Rest in Seven Section 161 of the New York State Labor Law.

It is stating in Paragraph #3, "Before operating on Sunday, every employer shall designate a day of rest, consisting of at least twenty-four consecutive hours of rest in each and every calendar week for each employee, and shall notify each employee in advance of his or her designated day of rest. No employee shall be permitted to work on his designated day of rest." There is no clarity to it being voluntary or not.

We are a small company of under 50 employees. We have two shifts. We require the employees to work Mon. thru Fri. and currently are working 10 hour shifts. We have additional work and ask for volunteers to work on Sat. and Sun (no more than 6 hours per day). We put up a volunteer sign up sheet and ask the employees if they want to work on the weekend. They sign their names, choose the days they can work and the hours they can work. This is strickly all voluntarily done. When we did this last year we contacted NYS and we were told if it was mandatory the employee could not work 14 days in a row. But as long as it was voluntary and not mandatory it would be ok. So we decided to put a voluntary sign up sheet allowing the employee to decide for themselves if they wanted to work the weekend or not.

Are we breaking the 161 NYS labor law?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!



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  • There are several exceptions to this rule. They include:

    a. Foreman in charge;

    b. Employees in dairies, creameries, milk condenseries, milk powder factories, milk sugar factories, milk shipping stations, butter and cheese factories, ice cream manufacturing plants and milk bottling plants, where not more than seven persons are employed;

    c. Employees, if the board in its discretion approves, engaged in an industrial or manufacturing process necessarily continuous, in which no employee is permitted to work more than eight hours in any calendar day;

    d. Employees whose duties include not more than three hours' work on Sunday in setting sponges in bakeries, caring for live animals, maintaining fires, or making necessary repairs to boilers or machinery.

    e. Employees in resort or seasonal hotels and restaurants in rural communities and in cities and villages having a population of less than fifteen thousand inhabitants, excluding that portion of the population of a third class city residing outside of its corporation tax district where such city embraces the entire area of a former township. As used in this subdivision, the term “resort” shall apply to any establishment enumerated herein which operates for not more than four calendar months and fifteen days in each year, and the term “seasonal” shall apply to any establishment enumerated herein in which the number of employees is increased by at least one hundred per cent from the slack to the busiest season.

    f. Employees in dry dock plants engaged in making repairs to ships.

    If your employees do not fall within any of these exceptions, you might consider calling the state DOL again or a local employment law attorney. Occasionally we have encountered incorrect answers when speaking to individuals at state DOLs and a second opinion may be useful. You might request something in writing as well, because according to the law, "No employee shall be permitted to work on his designated day of rest."
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