January 20, 2012
New York Wage Theft Protection Act: February 1st Deadline Approaching
Under New York State's recently enacted Wage Theft Prevention Act, more detailed wage notification and recordkeeping are being mandated in order to inform employees on a more timely basis of wage information which pertains specifically to each employee. Failure to provide this information can result in hefty violations and penalties.
The intent of the law is to notify employees of specific wage related information. The following information must be provided in each annual notice:
- Rate to be paid to each employee including overtime rates, if applicable.
- Method to calculate pay (i.e. hourly).
- Allowances if any, to be included as part of the minimum wage (i.e. tip or meal allowances).
- The designated pay date and frequency of pay (i.e. bi-weekly).
- Name, address (physical and mailing address, if different), and telephone number of employer.
- Any "doing business as" names used by the employer.
- Employee acknowledgement and signature.
The law took effect on April 9, 2011 and requires that every private sector employer provide a notice to every employee both at the time of hire and before February 1st of each year thereafter. The first yearly notice is required to be distributed before February 1st, 2012. The notice must be distributed to the employee both in English and in the employee's primary language which was specified by the employee at the time of hire. Additionally, a new notice is required within 7 days after a wage change, if the change is not listed on the employee's pay stub for the following pay period.
Failure to provide a wage notice within 10 business days of an employee's first day of employment could result in a $50 per week penalty up to $2,500 plus costs and attorney's fees.
New York State also requires employers to maintain payroll records for 6 years. The payroll records must show the information included and required on wage statements for each week the employee has worked. The wage notice must also be kept along with the payroll records.
Moreover, the new law results in additional wage payment violations if an employer is caught in violation of the labor law concerning wages. The employer faces potential civil penalties which may include 100% of the total amount of wages that should have been paid.
In light of the additional burden put on employers, New York State hopes to reduce the amount of wage violations by providing awareness that employees may have lacked in the past.
Employers can find required template notices in most languages at www.labor.ny.gov.