New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed an executive order expanding the City’s Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, expanding it to commercial tenants at economic-development projects that receive $1 million or more in city subsidies. Due to certain exclusions in the original law, such as retailers, initially this only applied to approximately 1,200 employees. Now, however, approximately 18,000 workers will be covered; or, in other words, approximately 70 percent of jobs at businesses that receive economic development financing from the City’s Economic Development Corporation.
Specifically, for those workers not receiving benefits such as health insurance, their living wage will rise from $11.90/hour to $13.13/hour; and for those receiving such benefits, their living wage will rise from $10.30/hour to $11.50/hour. These increases are effective immediately, although manufacturers, businesses with gross income under $3 million, housing developments with high levels of affordability, and the Hudson Yards development remain exempt.
This also sets the stage for an impending legislative debate in Albany. Mayor de Blasio previously has sought the authority for municipalities in New York State to establish their own minimum wages for all hourly employees, as was recently seen in Seattle. Governor Andrew Cuomo originally opposed this plan, but amidst his re-election campaign, has reversed course. He now endorses a statewide increase of the minimum wage to $10.10/hour, along with a grant of authority to municipalities to locally raise this minimum wage by as much as 30 percent, or to $13.13/hour.
Wage and hour compliance is a significant issue faced by employers on a daily basis, and this area of the law increasingly is becoming more complex. Employers with questions or doubts about compliance with federal, state, or local wage, hour, and/or labor laws should communicate with inside or outside counsel.