On December 29, 2014, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed a bill eliminating the Wage Theft Prevention Act's requirement that all private New York employers provide written wage rate notices to their employees by February 1 each year. The original law, which took effect on April 9, 2011, imposed a mandatory obligation upon employers to provide employees with a written annual notice that contained certain wage-related information, including the employee's rates of pay, the basis of the employee's pay rates, any allowances claimed as part of the minimum wage and specific employer information.
The approval memorandum signed by Governor Cuomo, which accompanied the bill, states that the effective date of the amendment will "accelerate" to remove the notice requirement on employers for the 2015 calendar year. The New York Department of Labor announced on its website that "given the pending enactment of this chapter amendment, the Department will not require annual statements in 2015." However, employers are still required to provide employees with a wage rate notice upon hire.
Other amendments to the Act, which will take effect on February 27, 2015, include the following:
- Increased penalties for employers that do not provide new employees with the required notice within 10 days of hire, from $50 per worker, per workweek, to $50 per worker, per workday, up to a maximum of $5,000 (previously $2,500);
- Increased penalties for not providing employees with earning statements, from $100 per week, up to a maximum of $2,500, to $250 per day, up to a maximum of $5,000;
- Increased civil penalties for employers that commit repeat violations within six years of their first violation, up to a maximum of $20,000;
- Potential liability on successor businesses for the violations committed by prior employers; and
- Amending the New York Limited Liability Company Law to impose joint and several personal liability on the top 10 members of every LLC for unpaid wages owed to the company's employees.
What This Means for New York Employers
While the new law relieves employers of the responsibility of providing their employees with annual wage rate notices, employers should be aware of the increased penalties and other changes to the Wage Theft Prevention Act. Employers should review their pay practices to ensure that they continue to satisfy their obligations.
Reminder: New York State's Minimum Wage Increased to $8.75 Per Hour
As of December 31, 2014, New York state's minimum wage increased from $8.00 per hour to $8.75 per hour. Although the federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, New York employers are required to comply with the higher New York state minimum wage.
Employers are also required to post a minimum wage information poster reflecting the new minimum wage in their place of work. Updated posters can be found on the New York State Department of Labor's website.