New York sees new labor laws in 2017
While the U.S. Department of Labor’s update to the federal salary threshold for overtime exemptions has been delayed indefinitely by a preliminary injunction, employers in New York still face similar overtime updates in 2017 on a state level. This is one of several amendments to New York employment laws set to take effect early this year — for those doing business in the Empire State, be ready to comply with the changes below:
Salary threshold to qualify for overtime exemption
Effective Dec. 31, 2016, the overtime exempt salary thresholds rose to:
- $825 per week for “large” (11 or more employees) New York City employees
- $787 per week for “small” (10 or fewer employees) New York City employees
- $750 per week for employees in Suffolk, Westchester, and Nassau counties
- $727 per week for the remaining New York counties
For reference, the current federal salary threshold under the FLSA is $455 per week (with the now-stalled update intending to push it up to $913 per week).
These increases are the first step in the New York State Department of Labor’s (NYSDOL) proposal for incremental increases to the salary threshold, which differ depending on the size and location of the employer. Companies based out of New York City (NYC) face the most rapidly increasing thresholds, with the NYSDOL projecting an increase to $975 per week for large employers by the end of 2017, and up to $1,125 per week by the end of 2018.
It’s important to note that companies with various New York locations will likely have to enforce multiple salary thresholds, depending on their employees’ location within the state.
Minimum wage increases
Effective Dec. 30, 2016, the New York minimum wage rose from $9 an hour to at least $9.70 an hour. However, like the aforementioned salary threshold increases, the minimum wage increases are also contingent on a company’s size and location.
Minimum wage rose to $10.50 an hour for small companies in NYC, and up to $11 an hour for the large companies. For those working in Suffolk, Westchester, and Nassau counties, minimum wage rose to $10 an hour.
Additionally, the NYSDOL has continued its efforts to eventually raise minimum wage specifically for New York’s fast food workers to $15 an hour. This wage order targets fast food workers in an attempt to reduce the amount of public assistance spending per fast food worker in New York, which was the nation’s highest in 2011 at $6,800 (a total annual cost of $700 million). Starting Dec. 31, 2016, the minimum wage for fast food workers increased to $12 for those in NYC, and to $10.75 for those outside the city. Ultimately, NYC fast food workers should see a $15 minimum wage by the end of 2018 (and for those outside the city, by July 1, 2021).
Enhanced freelancer protections:
A new bill detailing various protections for freelance workers — signed into law by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio this past November — goes into effect on May 15 in 2017. This law — often referred to as the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act,” gives hiring parties a 30 day window to pay freelancers upon completion of their services. They will also need to provide a written contract for freelancers working on projects for $800 or more, including multiple projects taking place over a 120-day time frame. Additionally, it includes an anti-retaliation provision, which prohibits employers from penalizing contractors for exercising their rights under the new law, which includes denying them future work opportunities.
Under the new law, a freelance worker is defined broadly as “any person, whether or not incorporated or using a trade name, who is retained as an independent contractor to provide services in exchange for compensation.”