While almost everyone’s attention is focused on changes that the Trump administration will bring at the national level, New York is about to implement far-reaching regulations that will significantly impact employers throughout the state. Just when employers were heaving a sigh of relief this holiday season over the halting of the Fair Labor Standards Act regulations that were scheduled to take effect December 1st, the New York State Department of Labor is poised to implement changes to its wage orders that significantly increase pay levels for a wide array of businesses and employees.

The following chart summarizes the biggest changes that will take effect on December 31st each year absent any intervention:

Please click here to view table

In addition to the changes above, unit rates, minimum wage rates, and allowances for utilities for building service industry employees have all increased, depending on the size and location of the employer. Uniform allowances have also increased depending on the location and size of the employer as well as whether the employee works more or less than 20-30 hours weekly. Increases will also effect hospitality industry workers in these areas.

In light of these changes, a checklist of what employers need to do to remain in compliance includes the following:

  • Review job descriptions and pay levels for affected employees. Employers will want to take a good long look at affected employee job descriptions and determine whether to increase the duties of some exempt employees or convert them to hourly employees, as well as whether to increase personnel and limit overtime.
  • Remember that one size more than likely does not fit all. Employers must be mindful that an employee working in Nassau County will now have a higher pay requirement than one with the same title in Rockland County, and must determine how to handle that reality.
  • Rally the Human Resources staff. Human Resources and payroll personnel will need training on the updates, and employers may also want to consider setting a plan with these departments to revisit each year in order to cut down on an annual panic to prepare for increases.
  • Consult your outside counsel. With the Empire State’s employee-friendly lawmaking spree and the change in management at the national level, New York laws will likely continue to diverge from their federal counterparts. Accordingly, employers should be reaching out to experienced labor and employment counsel now more than ever in order to stay abreast of changes.