As you are aware, federal changes to wage and hour laws continue to be on hold. However, New York State has enacted a number of new laws that employers must comply with in 2017.

Exemption Status and Wage Increases

In May 2016, the Federal Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued new rules regarding the threshold “white collar” exemption from overtime pay. The DOL had increased the minimum pay threshold from $23,660 to $47,476 per year. This change was to take effect December 1, 2016. At the eleventh hour, based on challenges from employers from various states, a Federal Judge in Texas issued an injunction effectively staying the requirement for employers to raise the threshold pay for exempt employees. Based on the recent election and the appointment of a new Commissioner of Labor, it is unlikely that the DOL will appeal this ruling. Thus, absent new legislation, the Federal threshold likely will not rise above $23,660.

Nevertheless, the New York State legislature has increased the minimum pay threshold for exempt employees under New York Law. Effective January 1, 2017, the minimum pay thresholds are as follows:

New York City (11 or more employees)          $825.00 per week

New York City (10 or fewer employees)          $787.00 per week

Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties    $750.00 per week

Remainder of New York State                        $727.50 per week

Notably, these figures will rise incrementally between 2018 and 2020 to as much as $1,125.00 per week.

Increase in Minimum Wage

In addition to the increase in minimum wage for exempt employees, New York State has also increased the minimum wage for non-exempt employees effective January 1, 2017. The new minimum wage for non-exempt employees is as follows:

New York City (11 or more employees)         $11.00 per hour

New York City (10 or fewer employees)         $10.50 per hour

Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties   $10.00 per hour

Remainder of New York State                       $9.70 per hour

Furthermore, these figures will rise incrementally between 2018 and 2020 to as much as $15.00 per hour in New York City, Long Island and Westchester and as much as $12.50 per hour in the remainder of New York State.

New Insurance Rules for Commercial Crime Coverage

In what can be considered good news for New York employers, effective July 1, 2017, insurance carriers that write coverage for New York employers can no longer refuse to offer commercial crime coverage. New York law no longer permits an employer to deny employment to a prospective employee with a criminal record, unless their criminal conviction “relates” to their new employment. Since employers cannot refuse to hire employees with criminal convictions, at the very least, insurers are required to offer them appropriate commercial crime coverage should that employee’s act cause damage to the company.

Protection for Freelance Workers

In its continuing effort to protect workers of all kind, the New York City legislature has passed the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which will go into effect May 15, 2017. The Act covers individual parties that are not incorporated that do business with employers in New York City. The Act obligates the parties to put all agreements in writing where the value of services exceeds $800. It further imposes damages upon the employer if they a) fail to make payment within 30 days of services being completed, or b) require the freelancer to accept less than the contracted amount in order to be paid in a timely fashion. The statute imposes double damages and attorney’s fees for any violation.

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