New York makes several changes to Labor Law
The Wage Theft Prevention Act creates new penalties and employer obligations that take effect April 12, 2011.
New York Governor David Paterson signed the Wage Theft Prevention Act on December 13, 2010, which creates new penalties and employer obligations that take effect April 12, 2011. Employers should begin making preparations now in anticipation of these changes and increased penalty provisions.
New York Governor David Paterson signed the Wage Theft Prevention Act (the “Act”) on December 13, 2010. The Act makes several changes to New York’s Labor Law, including:
- Additional notice requirements—As discussed in prior alerts, Section 195 of the Labor Law was amended to require employers to provide notices to employees hired on or after October 26, 2009, with information on their exempt status and pay rates. The current Act further amended Section 195, adding a new requirement that employers provide all employees with such notices at the time of hire as well as on or before February 1 of each subsequent year of employment. The notices must contain the information previously required by Section 195 (rates of pay, regular pay day, exempt status), as well as new information, including the basis of pay rates (hourly, shift, day, week, salary, piece, commission, or other), any allowances claimed as part of the minimum wage, and detailed employer address and contact information. The notice must be provided both in English and in the employee’s primary language. The Commissioner of Labor is tasked with creating non-English template notices. Employers must maintain these notices for six years. An employee who does not receive such a notice within 10 days of hire may bring an action against the employer to recover $50 per week not notified, up to $2,500.
- Information in wage statements—Section 195 was also amended to require employers to provide employees with pay statements each time employees are paid that specify applicable dates that the wages cover, name of the employee, employer name, address and phone number, the rate or rates of pay and the basis thereof, gross deductions, allowances claimed as part of the minimum wage, and net wages. Non-exempt employees must be provided with statements that include the following additional information: the regular hourly rate or rates of pay, the overtime rate or rates of pay, the number of regular hours worked, and the number of overtime hours worked. These statements must also be maintained for six years.
- Liquidated Damages—Section 198 was amended to increase liquidated damages to up to 100% of the total amount of wages due. Current law provides for 25% of the total amount of wages due.
- Additional Anti-Retaliation Penalties—Section 215 was amended to allow the Commissioner of Labor to order additional remedies in retaliation actions, including the ability to specifically enjoin conduct, and/or order liquidated damages, reinstatement with back pay, or front pay.
- Tolling—The limitations period for actions brought under the Labor Law is tolled from the latter of the date of the employee complaint to the Department of Labor or the date of the Commissioner of Labor’s commencement of an investigation.
Employers should begin making preparations now in anticipation of these changes and increased penalty provisions.
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