On December 29, 2014, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an amendment to the Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) that abolishes the annual wage notice requirement and increases penalties for violations of the act. By repealing the WTPA annual notice requirement, the amendment removes a burdensome administrative requirement for employers.

Although the amendment becomes effective on February 27, 2015, legislative leaders and the governor agreed to a chapter amendment to make the elimination of the annual notice requirement effective immediately. In years past, private sector employers were required to give notice of wage rates to all New York employees, both exempt and non-exempt, by February 1 of each year. For 2015, employers are not required to provide the annual notices.

Please note that employers must still make the required written disclosures to any new hires in English and in their primary language (if the New York Department of Labor offers a translation) within 10 business days of their start date.

The amendment also increases penalties for non-compliance with the WTPA. Prior to this amendment, penalties were assessed at US$50 for each week that an employer failed to provide the requisite wage notice, up to a maximum of US$2,500. Now, the penalty is US$50 per day up to US$5,000. In addition to these increases, the recent change to the law allows for penalties ranging from US$1,000 to US$20,000 for repeated violations of the WTPA.

Other changes stemming from the amendment include:

  • Successor Liability – Employers under a similar operation and ownership to a prior employer will be liable for its predecessor’s violations of the WTPA.
  • Personal Liability for Members of LLCs – The 10 members with the largest percentage ownership share of a limited liability company (LLC) are now liable for the company’s debts to employees.

Additionally, please note the increases to the minimum wage in the following states:

  • New York – from US$8.00 to US$8.75 on December 31, 2014
  • New Jersey – from US$8.25 to US$8.38 on January 1, 2015
  • Connecticut – from US$8.70 to US$9.15 on January 1, 2015