Every new year brings significant changes to New York’s labor and employment laws that employers must be aware of to protect themselves from potential exposure from Department of Labor audits, private lawsuits and other employment-related problems.

Minimum Wage Increases

New York State has increased the minimum wage each year for the past 4 years. For 2020, the minimum wage for employees on Long Island and Westchester has increased to $13.00 per hour. In New York City, the minimum wage has increased to $15.00 per hour for all employees regardless of the employer’s size. For the remainder of New York State, the minimum wage has increased to $11.80 per hour.

Moreover, for an employee to be considered “exempt” from receiving overtime benefits, the salary threshold for employee wages has also increased. In addition to the “duties test” being met, the employee must earn a minimum of $975 per week on Long Island and Westchester and $1,125 per week in New York City in order to qualify as exempt.

Increases in Family Leave Benefits

The employee benefits under the New York State Paid Family Leave Act has also increased for 2020. Employees are now entitled to 60% of their wages, up to $840.75 per week, for up to 10 weeks. Though employees are paid through the employer’s insurance plan, employers need to be aware of this increase to properly educate their employees.

Salary Inquiries

New York City previously implemented a law prohibiting employers from making any inquiry of prospective employees relating to their salary history. This law has now taken effect for all of New York State. New York State employers are forbidden from asking about or using salary history to determine an offer of employment and wages for a prospective employee and the raise or promotion offered to a present employee.

Sexual Harassment Training

Since October 2019, all New York State employers, regardless of size, are required to provide their employees with both a bona fide sexual harassment prevention written policy and interactive sexual harassment training. Notably, this training must be done on an annual basis.

Employers should expect the New York State Department of Labor to increase enforcement of this new law. While it still remains uncertain what the penalties will be for non-compliance, employers will likely face significant adverse actions if they ignore their obligations under this law.

Employers that continue to ignore the ever-changing landscape that exists presently in New York will experience severe consequences.

If you would like more information regarding the new rules, please contact partner, Jeffrey Ettenger at 631-777-2401.

See also our related post, Watch Out For These Employment Law Changes In New York.