The start of 2015 has brought much anticipated relief to New York employers. On December 29, 2014, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (finally) signed into law the amendment to the state’s Wage Theft Protection Act (“WTPA”), immediately eliminating the requirement that employers issue annual written wage notices to current employees before February 1 of each year.

The New York legislature passed the bill in June, with the law set to take effect 60 days after being signed by the Governor. However, as it sat on the Governor’s desk employers were left waiting...and waiting, uncertain of whether the law would become effective in time to do away with the annual notice requirement for 2015. Upon signing the reform measure into law, the Governor also issued a signing statement, accelerating the effective date of the provision and making clear that the annual notice requirement for employers is eliminated for the 2015 calendar year. The New York Department of Labor (“NYDOL”) also issued a notice on its website stating that the NYDOL “will not require annual statements in 2015.”

The remaining amendments to the WTPA include increased penalties for non-compliance, an amendment to the limited liability company law making individual members jointly and severally liable for violations, and the amendments to the state Finance Law to create a “Wage Theft Prevention Account” for penalty funds paid by violating employers – all to take effect February 27, 2015.

Thus, while the annual notices have gone away, compliance with other requirements is still necessary.

  • Employers are still required to provide wage notices to all newly hired employees within 10 days of hire. Employers that fail to do so will now face increased penalties from $50 per worker, per workweek, to $50 per worker, per workday, up to a maximum of $5,000.  
  • Employers must also continue to comply with the paystub requirements, or face an increased $250 penalty per violation. The statutory cap for penalties on repeat offenders has also doubled to $20,000.  
  • Employers in the hospitality industry must still issue wage notices to employees making minimum wage each time there is a change in the pay rate. With the New York minimum wage increase from $8.00 to $8.75, as of December 31, 2014, and the scheduled increase to $9.00 in 2015, hospitality employers will need to issue new pay notices in 2015 and 2016, and thereafter, in subsequent years in which such increases takes effect.