Quirky Question #250, New York wage notice burdens lifted
I am a New York employer and I have heard about some onerous requirements to furnish wage notices to all employees. Is this law taking effect soon?
Answer: By David Singer, Joel O’Malley, Laura Lestrade, and Bobbi Leonard
Recent amendments to the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA). In general the amendments, passed in December 2014, reduce burdens on employers by eliminating the requirement to furnish updated wage notices to all employees between January 1 and February 1, but increase liability for non-compliance with other requirements.
The WTPA, passed in 2011, requires, in part, that employers give written notice of wage rates to each newly hired employee within ten days of hire. The notice must include the rate or rates of pay, including applicable overtime rates; how the employee is paid, whether by the hour, shift, day, week, etc.; the employee’s regular paydays; the official name of the employer and any other names used for business; the address and phone number of the employer’s main office or principal location; and any allowances taken as part of the minimum wage, such as tips or meal and lodging deductions.
The New York Department of Labor provides sample wages statement notices, available here. The notice must be given to each new hire in English and in the employee’s primary language, so long as the New York Department of Labor offers a translated form for that language.
Before the amendments to the WTPA, which were passed on December 29, 2014, wage notices were not only required to be furnished to new hires, but an updated wage notice also was required to be furnished to each employee between January 1 and February 1 of each year. The amendments have eliminated this annual update requirement, so employers need not provide the annual notice in 2015. Note, however, that employers are still required to provide an updated wage notice to employees affected by a decreased pay rate.
While the removal of the annual notice requirements is a welcome change, the recent amendments also provide increased penalties and broaden the scope of liability. Failure to provide wage notices as required now incurs a $50 penalty per day the notice is not provided, up to a maximum of $5,000 per employee. Before the amendments, the penalty was $50 per week with a maximum of $2,500 per employee. The penalties for failing to provide wage statements as required by the WTPA have also increased. Further, the amendments broaden the reach of the WTPA to impose individual liability for certain LLC members and liability on a “successor” business, such that a successor company will be liable for any WTPA violations caused by the predecessor company.
Given the increased penalties and liability, employers should review their practices to ensure they are meeting their obligations under the WTPA.