On April 4, 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that will gradually increase the minimum wage across New York State to $15 per hour. The bill also provides employees with up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for the purpose of caring for certain family members.
The minimum wage increases will be phased in via annual adjustments beginning December 31, 2016, when the rate will increase from $9 to $11 in New York City for employers with 11 or more employees. For such employers, the minimum wage will increase to $13 on December 31, 2017, before rising to $15 on December 31, 2018. For smaller employers in New York City, the minimum wage rate will rise at a slower pace and reach $15 on December 31, 2019. On Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk Counties) and in Westchester County, the minimum wage will increase to $15 by 2021, whereas the remaining counties of New York State will not establish a $15 minimum wage until 2021 or later.
Beginning on January 1, 2018, a new paid family leave law will allow certain employees in New York State to be eligible for 12 weeks of paid family leave to provide care for a family member who has a serious health condition; to bond with the employee's child during the first year after the child's birth or adoption; or because of any qualifying need under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) arising out of active duty in the armed forces. As with New Jersey's family leave law (and in contrast to the FMLA), New York State's family leave law will not cover absences resulting from the employee's own medical condition. Like the minimum wage, the available benefits under this program will be phased in, eventually entitling the employee to 67% of the employee's weekly pay, capped at a maximum of 67% of the state's average weekly wage for 12 weeks by January 1, 2021. Importantly, no employer will be required to fund any portion of the family leave benefit, as the benefits will be funded through employee payroll deductions.
All New York State employers should review their current payroll and leave policies to prepare for compliance with the new minimum wage and paid family leave laws as they take effect.