In prior posts, we have summarized the New York State Department of Labor’s most recent rulemaking processes, comprised of two separate wage boards. The first, in 2014, addressed the hospitality industry as a whole, while more recently, in 2015, another highly publicized wage board addressed the subset of that industry deemed “fast food.” Employers should be aware of the cascade of new rules flowing and likely continuing to flow from these wage boards. “Wage Boards” are authorized to make recommendations to the Commissioner of Labor regarding changes in regulations, which the Commissioner can either accept or reject.

Below are some changes, either made by the legislature, or recommended by a wage board, that are looming:

  • The minimum wage for New York State for all employers will increase to $9.00 on December 31, 2015, and the “salary basis” for the executive and administrative exemptions under New York law will increase to $675/week;
  • The 2014 Wage Board, which announced a reduction in the available tip credit against minimum wage, is scheduled to issue proposed regulations in time for the new tip credit minimum wage of $7.50 for all hospitality service employees effective December 31, 2015. As of this writing, those regulations have not been released;
  • The 2015 Wage Board announced its proposed scheduled increase for the “fast food” industry along with recommended definitions identifying employers covered by the “fast food” regulations. As proposed, changes to the fast food industry minimum wage also would begin on December 31, 2015;
  • The U.S. Department of Labor has indicated its intent to increase the salary basis for all FLSA-covered employers (including those in New York) to $921/week by some date in 2016. The comment period on these proposed regulation is ongoing; and,
  • Mayor De Blasio has expressed an interest in a municipal minimum wage for New York City, notwithstanding ambiguity in the law concerning his authority to set such a minimum wage.

All of these proposed rules, save the already-enacted increase to the New York State minimum wage, remain subject to continued agency rulemaking, public comment and political lobbying. All New York employers, not limited to those in New York City or those operating in a food service sector, must pay close attention to wage-and-hour compliance.