New York State and New York City laws are ever-changing, and the more employers know, the less risk they face.  The following is a primer for employment law changes going in to effect in 2018.

New York State Paid Leave

Employers should already be aware of this new law, which provides paid leave to employees for a family member’s serious medical condition or to bond with a newborn child. Although paid leave went into effect January 1, 2018, employers should have been collecting premiums from their employees payroll since July 2017.  Any employers who have not done so, should contact their insurance broker immediately.

Employees who desire to file a claim should do so through their employer’s insurer.  Appropriate forms must be completed and supporting documents must be provided.  If the employee qualifies, the employee may be entitled to up to 8 weeks of paid leave and 50% of his/her salary, depending upon how much he/she earns.  These figures will rise in 2019 and 2020.

Although the payments are not made by the employer (in fact the employer pays nothing to the employee for the paid leave), employers must still be aware that it cannot discriminate against an employee for taking a permitted leave of absence.  An employer that terminates an employee while on or immediately after they take paid leave could face a discrimination claim.

Increase in Minimum Wage and Exempt Status

Effective January 1, 2018, minimum wage for all New York State employees has increased.  In New York City, employers with 11 or more employees must pay their employees a minimum of $13.00 per hour.  New York City employers with 10 or less employees must pay a minimum wage of $12.00 per hour.  On Long Island and in Westchester Counties, minimum wage has been increased to $11.00 per hour.  Everywhere else in New York State, minimum wage has increased to $10.40 per hour.  Applicable time and a half rules still apply for overtime compensation for all employees.  Hospitality workers who receive a “tip credit” must be aware of changes to the tip credit minimum wage.

In addition to being required to meet the “duties” test to be considered an exempt employee (and not required to be paid for overtime), the salary threshold for employee wages has also increased.  In New York City, employees must earn between $900 and $975 per week depending on the company’s size.  On Long Island and Westchester, the figure is $825 per week, while throughout the rest of the State, the minimum salary is $780.00 per week.  If an employee does not meet this minimum threshold, he/she cannot be considered an exempt employee, and is entitled to be paid overtime compensation.

New York City’s Ban on Salary Inquiries

Effective November 1, 2017, employers in New York City can no longer make an inquiry into a job applicant’s salary history.  In addition, employers cannot search public records or databases in an effort to determine an applicant’s salary history.  If the applicant willingly discloses the information unprompted, the employer cannot be liable.

It is likely that in 2018 New York State and New York City will consider and pass more laws relative to employee wages and benefits.  We will keep you apprised of this ever-changing landscape.

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