It’s important to stay up to date on all of the employment laws in your state so that you can maintain compliance in your business. We did some of the hard work for you and put some of the most important New York statutes in one place so you can either learn them for the first time or give yourself a refresher. 

However, remember that our summary is not qualified legal advice, laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality. 

It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. Consult with a qualified lawyer and/or your local government agencies if you have questions or concerns. 

Here are a few employment laws every New York small business owner should know.

Resources

First, here are a few helpful links and resources for you to bookmark and refer back to:

Leave

  • Sick Days: Employers are not required to provide sick leave, but if they do, they must comply with the terms of the established policy. 
  • Medical Leave: No statute, but some employers may be required to provide unpaid medical leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. 
  • Vacation Days: Employers are not required to provide vacation days, either paid or unpaid, but if they do, they must comply with the terms of the established policy.
    • An employer is required to pay out any remaining vacation days to an employee when they separate from the position if its policy or contract requires it. 
  • Jury Duty: Employers with more than 10 employees must pay the first $40 of the employee’s daily wages for the first three days of jury service. 
    • An employee may not be penalized or terminated for responding to a jury summons. 
  • Holiday Leave: Private employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid holidays, but if they choose to do so, they must comply with the terms of the established policy. 
  • Voting Leave: Employers are required to provide time off so that an employee has enough time to vote while the polls are open. 
    • The employer must only provide two hours of paid time off. 
    • An employee must give 10 days notice before an election, and employers must post a notice informing employees of their rights to take voting leave in a conspicuous location. 
  • Bereavement Leave: Private employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid bereavement leave, but if they choose to do so, they must comply with the terms of the established policy. 

Final Paycheck

  • If an employee is discharged from employment by the employer for any reason (fired, terminated, laid off), the employer must pay any remaining wages no later than the next regular pay date. 
    • The employer must mail the wages if the employee requests they do so. 
  • An employer must notify an employee of their termination in writing within five days of the date of termination, as well as the exact date that the employee’s benefits will end. 
  • There are no statutes for payment of wages to employees who quit or who separate from employment due to a labor dispute, but employers should pay employees all wages due by the next pay date to ensure compliance with known laws. 

Minimum Wage

  • The current minimum wage for New York (except for fast food workers) is as follows: 
    • Employers in New York City with 11+ employees: $15 
    • Employers in NYC with 10 or fewer employees: $13.50 
    • Remainder of downstate: $12 
    • Rest of state: $11.10 
  • The minimum wage for fast food workers in NYC is $15
  • Fast food workers in the rest of the state receive a minimum wage of $12.75
  • The minimum wage (except that of fast food workers) will increase over the next few years in the following manner: 
    • Employers in NYC with 10 or fewer employees (December 31, 2019): $15 
    • Remainder of downstate employers 
      • December 31, 2019: $13
      • December 31, 2020: $14
      • December 31, 2021: $15
    • Rest of New York
      • December 31, 2019: $11.80
      • December 31, 2020: $12.50
      • The New York Labor Commission will increase the minimum wage annually for the rest of New York State starting in 2021 until the minimum wage reaches $15.00. The increase will be announced by October 1 of each year.

Tipped Wages

New York employers are allowed to take tip credits toward their minimum wage obligations for service workers and food service employees. The rates for service workers other than those at resort hotels are as follows: 

  • NYC employers with 11+ employees: $12.50 cash wage, $2.50 credit, $3.25 tip threshold
  • NYC employers with 10 or fewer employees: $2.25 credit, $2.95 tip threshold
    • The rate will change December 31, 2019 to $12.50 cash wage, $2.50 credit, $3.25 tip threshold.
  • Remainder of downstate: 
    • Current: $10.00 cash wage, $2.00 credit, $2.60 tip threshold
    • December 31, 2019: $10.74 cash wage, $2.15 credit, $2.80 tip threshold
    • December 31, 2020: $11.65 cash wage, $2.35 credit, $3.05 tip threshold
    • December 31, 2021: $12.50 cash wage, $2.50 credit, $3.25 tip threshold
  • Remainder of New York State: 
    • Current: $9.25 cash wage, $1.85 credit, $2.40 tip threshold
    • December 31, 2019: $9.85 cash wage, $1.95 credit, $2.55 tip threshold
    • December 31, 2020: $10.40 cash wage, $2.10 credit, $2.70 tip threshold

The rates for food service workers are as follows: 

  • NYC employers with 11+ employees: $10.00 cash wage, $5.00 credit, $15.00 total
  • NYC employers with 10 or fewer employees: $9.00 cash wage, $4.50 credit, $13.50 total
  • Remainder of downstate
    • Current: $8.00 cash wage, $4.00 credit, $12.50 total
    • December 31, 2019: $8.65 cash wage, $4.35 credit, $13.00 total
    • December 31, 2020: $9.35 cash wage, $4.65 credit, $14.00 total
    • December 31, 2021: $10.00 cash wage, $5.00 credit, $15.00 total
  • Remainder of New York State
    • Current: $7.50 cash wage, $3.60 credit, $11.10 total
    • December 31, 2019: $7.85 cash wage, $3.95 credit, $11.80 total
    • December 31, 2020: $8.35 cash wage, $4.15 credit, $12.50 total

The rates for service employees at resort hotels are as follows: 

  • NYC employers with 11+ employees: $12.50 cash wage, $2.50 credit, $8.40 tip threshold
  • NYC employers with fewer than 10 employees: $11.25 cash wage, $2.25 credit, $7.60 tip threshold
    • December 31, 2019: $12.50 cash wage, $2.50 credit, $8.40 tip threshold
  • Remainder of downstate
    • Current: $10.00 cash wage, $2.00 credit, $6.75 tip threshold
    • December 31, 2019: $10.74 cash wage, $2.15 credit, $7.30 tip threshold
    • December 31, 2020: $11.65 cash wage, $2.35 credit, $7.85 tip threshold
    • December 31, 2021: $12.50 cash wage, $2.50 credit, $8.40 tip threshold
  • Remainder of New York State 
    • Current: $9.25 cash wage, $1.85 credit, $6.25 tip threshold
    • December 31, 2019: $9.85 cash wage, $1.95 credit, $6.60 tip threshold
    • December 31, 2020: $10.40 cash wage, $2.10 credit, $7.00 tip threshold
  • Employers are allowed to require food service employees to participate in a tip pooling arrangement with a set percentage of tips being distributed to each occupation. 
    • Employer-mandated tip pooling is not allowed for tipped employees outside of the food service industry, but a voluntary tip pool may be established. 

Child Labor

  • Minors 14 and 15 years of age may work after school hours and during vacations, but not in factories. 
    • They may work no more than three hours on school days, and eight hours on other days with a weekly maximum of 18 hours and six days a week between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
    • When school is not in session, they may work no more than 8 hours daily and 40 hours a week between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. 
  • Minors 16 and 17 years of age may work no more than four hours Monday through Thursday and eight hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as holidays.
    • They may work a maximum of 28 hours and 6 days per week between 6 a.m and 10 pm. 
    • When school is not in session, they may work a maximum of 48 hours and 6 days per week between the hours of 6 a.m and midnight. 

Meal Breaks, Rest Periods, Overtime

  • Employers are required to pay an overtime rate of 1 ½  times the normal rate to non-exempt employees for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.
  • Certain employers such as those operating factories, hotels and restaurants are required to provide employees at least 24 consecutive hours rest in any calendar week. 
  • Employers are required to give meal breaks to all employees who work at least six hours. 
    • Non-factory workers are entitled to a 30-minute lunch break between 11 a.m and 2 p.m. for shifts six hours or longer, or a 45-minute break midway through a shift of more than six hours that starts between 1 p.m and 6 a.m. 
    • Factory workers are entitled to a 60-minute lunch break between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for shifts six hours or longer, or a 60-minute break midway through a shift of more than six hours that starts between 1 p.m and 6 a.m.

Employment Discrimination

New York employees are protected under both state and federal laws against employment discrimination. Employers are prohibited from refusing to hire, terminate, fail to promote, pay less or otherwise discriminate against employees and job applicants because of their race, national origin, religion, gender, disability or age. 

Click here to read our blog on what is acceptable and unacceptable to ask during an interview. 

Termination

  • New York is an employment-at-will state, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory. 
  • As stated before, an employer must notify an employee of their termination in writing within five days of the date of termination, as well as the exact date that the employee’s benefits will end. 

Shift Scheduling

  • Employees who report for work by request of the employer on any day shall be given call-in pay. This means they must be paid regular wages for at least four hours, or the number of hours in the regularly scheduled shift, whichever is less. 
  • Hourly workers whose workday takes place over more than 10 hours are entitled to an extra hour’s pay. 
    • The 10 hours includes an off-duty time, meal breaks and time between shifts. 

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