New York State’s employment law landscape is known for its stringent regulations. Employers operating within the state face a multitude of obligations at various levels. Statewide, they must adhere to provisions governing paid sick leave, pay equity, as well as anti-discrimination and anti-harassment regulations. Navigating this complex terrain becomes even more challenging due to the additional layer of laws present in certain counties and cities. Notably, some localities impose minimum wage standards that surpass those set at the state level. New York City, for example, offers specific protections for gig workers that are not afforded under state law. In this article, we will delve into the key laws and requirements that directly impact employers in New York State for 2023.
Pay Equity and Pay Transparency
New York was one of the first states to enact pay equity and transparency laws. An employee has the right to equal pay for substantially similar work regardless of age, race, creed, color or national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, disability, genetic history, familial status, marital status, or domestic violence victim status. The state permits wage differentials based on seniority or merit; a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or a bona fide factor other than status within one or more protected class or classes, such as education, training, or experience.
The state also explicitly protects discussions about compensation. However, employers may implement reasonable restrictions on those employees who have access to another employee’s wage information as part of their essential job functions. Employers may not discipline employees who discuss their pay.
Beginning in September 2023, New York State will require all employers with four or more employees to disclose salary ranges in job postings. The standard for posted ranges is the minimum and maximum annual salary or hourly rate that the employer, in good faith, believes to be accurate at the time of posting the advertisement for a job, promotion, or transfer opportunity. These requirements apply to remote workers when work is physically performed at least partly in New York; or if they report to a supervisor, office, or other work site in New York.
The New York State law carries graduated penalties increasing by $1,000 per offense. However, the New York City law, which has similar requirements, can bring civil penalties of up to $250,000 per violation.
Minimum Wage and Non-Exempt Status
The New York State minimum wage is $14.20 per hour for non-fast food employees and $15.00 per hour for fast food employees as of this writing. In Nassau County, Suffolk County, Westchester County, and New York City, the minimum wage is $15.00 per hour for all jobs.
The minimum salary for exempt classification in New York State is $55,341 annually. It is adjusted for inflation every December. In Nassau County, Suffolk County, Westchester County, and New York City, the minimum is currently $58,500 per year.
Written Wage Notice
New York State requires an employer to provide a written wage notice to employees within 10 days of their date of hire. This must include pay rate, pay basis, frequency of pay dates, and the dates of regular paydays. It must be provided to employees in both English and the employee’s primary language if that is something other than English. If wages change, the law requires employers to provide an updated wage notice at least seven calendar days before that change is initiated unless the change is listed on the employee’s pay stub for the next pay period.
Paid Sick and Safe Leave
New York employment law requires employees to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Sick and safe leave may be taken for the following reasons:
- An employee’s or a covered family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
- An employee’s or a family member’s diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
- Need for medical diagnosis or preventive care
- An employee or a family member is the victim of domestic violence, a family offense, a sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking
Paid Family Leave
As of January 2023, employees in New York State are eligible for 12 weeks of paid family leave during any 52-week calendar period at 67% of their average weekly wage. The maximum weekly benefit amount for 2023 is $1,131.08. Paid family leave may be taken for the following reasons:
- To care for a family member with a severe health condition
- To bond with a newborn child, newly adopted child, or newly placed foster child
- For a qualifying exigency arising out of the employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent being on active duty in the armed forces, such as active service in a foreign country or an impending call or order of active service to a foreign country
New York State requires employers to implement an anti-harassment policy that explains that sexual harassment, as defined by the Department of Labor and the New York Division of Human Rights, is prohibited. The policy language must specifically name those two agencies and provide examples of prohibited conduct. Employers must have harassment complaint forms available and state where to access those forms in the policy. Verbal complaints must be taken seriously even if the employee does not fill out the forms. Employers must provide annual anti-harassment training for all employees and supplemental training for supervisors.
Factory workers are entitled to a 60-minute lunch break if they work a shift of eight hours or more. If they work the first shift, this break must be between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Factory workers are also entitled to an additional 20-minute meal break between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. for workdays extending from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Non-factory workers are entitled to a 30-minute lunch break between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. for shifts six hours or longer that extend over that period and a 45-minute meal break at the time midway between the beginning and end of the shift for all shifts of more than six hours starting between 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. They are also entitled to an additional 20-minute meal break between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. for workdays extending from 11:00 a.m. to after 7:00 p.m.
Under New York employment law, employees who report to work on any regular workday must be paid for at least four hours, or the number of hours in the regularly scheduled shift, whichever is less, at the basic minimum hourly wage.
Pay for Travel Time
New York State requires that an employee be paid for travel time as part of the employee’s duties. While this does not include commuting time, non-exempt employees may be entitled to pay for travel time if they are asked to come back to the workplace after already going home or travel for a special assignment in another city.
Training, lecture attendance, meeting training programs, and similar activities must be counted as working time in New York State unless the activity is outside regular hours, voluntary, or not job-related.
New York State requires that an employee exiting a position should receive the final paycheck on or before the next ordinarily scheduled payday. The state has strict rules covering deductions that an employer is legally allowed to make from an employee’s wages. Employers may not charge employees for breakages, cash shortages, fines, or business losses.
It is essential for employers, HR professionals, and employees to understand their rights and responsibilities under New York employment law and be aware of the various agencies responsible for enforcing employment laws, such as the New York State Department of Labor and the New York City Commission on Human Rights.