New York Employment Law—Minimum Wage, Overtime Laws, and Family Leave Entitlement

New York Minimum Wage
New York Overtime Laws
New York Family and Medical Leave
Getting Help

Businesses in New York are subject to both state and federal labor laws that force their owners to comply with minimum wage, overtime, and family leave regulations and provide their employees with certain rights in the workplace. This article considers wage and hour laws as well as family leave entitlements.

New York Minimum Wage

New York’s minimum wage of $7.15 per hour is above the federal minimum wage of $6.55 (July, 2008); the state requires a lower minimum wage of $4.60 per hour for food service workers and also reduces the minimum wage requirement for other industries that allow workers to earn tips as income.

A food service workeris defined as:

“An employee primarily engaged in the serving of food or beverages to guests, patrons or customers in the hotel and restaurant industries, including wait staff, bartenders, captains and bussing personnel who regularly receive tips from their guests, patrons or customers.”

When an employer requires an employee to wear a uniform at work, the cost of purchasing or maintaining the uniform plus earnings should not take the employee’s hourly rate below minimum wage. The value of meals and lodging is also taken into account when an employer calculates minimum wage requirements.

Groups exempt from New York’s minimum wage laws include:

  • Executives and administrators earning more than $536.10 per week;
  • Professionals;
  • Outside salespersons ;
  • Taxicab drivers;
  • Government employees (However, certain non-teaching employees of BOCES are covered) ;
  • Part-time babysitters ;
  • Companions to the sick or elderly who live in their employer's home and whose principal duties do not include housework ;
  • Ministers and members of religious orders;
  • Volunteers, learners, apprentices and students working in non-profit institutions; and
  • Students obtaining vocational experience.

For more details visit the New York State Department of Labor Web site.

New York Overtime Laws

In addition to setting minimum wage requirements, New York’s labor laws require employers to pay time and a half (one and one half the regular rate of pay) for hours worked over 40 hours per week and time and a half for live-in or residential workers who are usually exempted under federal overtime laws. For more information on overtime laws visit the Department of Labor’s Web site.

New York Family and Medical Leave

Paid family leave is not offered by New York State at this time, although former Governor Spitzer attempted to introduce new legislation that would mandate it. New York, like many states, follows the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which offers a 12-week period of leave to employees who need to take time off for certain health conditions (their own and family members). There are also provisions in FMLA that allow family members of those serving in the military to take time off in certain circumstances. For more information see Family and Medical Leave.

Getting Help

If you feel you have been discriminated against for seeking minimum wage, overtime pay or FMLA, or that you have been denied your rightful wages, you should call the federal Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division at 1-866-4-US-WAGE. You can also get in touch with the New York State Department of Labor.

Remember, employers who violate federal and state wage laws can be subject to substantial fines in addition to being required to pay back wages, not to mention participate in criminal or civil lawsuits. You may wish to consult a New York employment attorney for more information on filing an employment lawsuit. Visit AttorneyPages to find a labor and employment lawyer in New York state.