Wage and Hour Laws in New York | Current New York Labor Laws

New York employers are required to provide employees with various privileges, including paid time off for sick leave, family leave, and vacation leave. Employees may be curious to know more about them if they are planning ahead for leave, such as the birth of a new child. Or, you may be a manager, supervisor, or human resources specialist seeking to find out if your organization is compliant with the current rules.

Employers are required to comply with different provisions based on their size, location, industry, and more. An employee’s career development should not be hindered by holding employers accountable. Once your business registration is processed, you have certain obligations to your employees under the law.

Hiring managers should understand the role of employment law in dictating minimum wage, protecting workers, and providing benefits. Together, the minimum wage and benefits, such as paid family leave, are known as the wage and hour laws. Our site provides detailed information about the wage and hour laws in New York State. Note that these benefits do not apply under all circumstances, such as if you are self-employed or work as an independent contractor.


Minimum Wage

New York has one of the highest minimum wages in the country, with the goal of achieving a living wage of $15 per hour. In New York City, the minimum wage has already reached $15 per hour. Outside New York City, the minimum wage is currently $13.20 per hour.

If you are a tipped worker, particularly a service employee, in New York City, the minimum wage is $12.50 per hour, with a $2.50 credit. In the rest of New York State, it is $11 per hour with a $2.20 credit. If you are a food service worker in New York City, the minimum wage is $10 per hour, with a $5 per hour credit. In the rest of New York State, it is $8.80 per hour, with a $4.40 per hour credit. You are a tipped employee if you work in an industry where you get voluntary contributions made by customers in exchange for services performed.

The current minimum wage varies depending on the size of the employer and the location where the employees work. The minimum wage may also vary by industry. The usual minimum wage may not apply under certain circumstances, such as if you are self-employed or work as an independent contractor, if you are in an internship or apprenticeship, or if you earn tips in the service industry.

Note that as of December 2020, tip allowances are no longer permitted in miscellaneous industries, meaning that employers cannot retain a portion of their workers’ tips.

If you are looking for information on the average wage, rather than the minimum wage, paid to individuals in certain industries, consult the U.S. Occupational Outlook Handbook for up-to-date statistics on career outlooks, average salary by career, and more. Consult with your HR department or a legal advisor if you cannot manage to determine whether minimum wage requirements apply to you. For more legal information, visit our New York Minimum Wage Laws page, which includes topics such as minimum wage, tip minimum wage, tip sharing and pooling, and subminimum wages.

Related topics covered on other pages include:


Overtime

The State requires an employer to pay mandatory overtime to employees in the workforce, unless otherwise exempt, at the rate of 1½ times, the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. See the pages Dept. of Labor FAQs and FLSA: Overtime for more information regarding overtime requirements for human resources managers.


One Day Rest in Seven

The State requires employers in certain workforce industries to provide their employees at least 24 consecutive hours rest in any calendar week. Employers covered include those operating factories, mercantile establishments, hotels, and restaurants. Other employers may be covered as well. For further information, see NY Labor Law 161.


Prevailing Wages

Under certain circumstances, employers in NY may be required to pay residents wage rates established by the federal or state prevailing wage rates and rules. The prevailing wage rates may be different from the state’s standard minimum wage rates. Employees may be eligible for prevailing wages if they work on federal or state government or government-funded construction projects or perform certain federal or state government services. See the New York Bureau of Public Work, Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), and Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA) for more information about prevailing wages.


Meals and Breaks

Mandatory meals and breaks are required in some industries. Hiring managers should understand how regulations about meals and breaks may affect their business and their employees.

Every person employed in or in connection with a mercantile or other establishment or occupation coming under the provisions of this chapter shall be allowed at least (30) thirty minutes for the noonday meal, except as in this chapter otherwise provided. The noonday (12:00 p.m.) meal period is recognized as extending from eleven o’clock in the morning (11:00 a.m.) to two o’clock in the afternoon (2:00 p.m.). An employee who works a shift of more than six (6) hours which extends over the noonday (12:00 p.m.) meal period is entitled to at least thirty (30) minutes off within that period for the meal period.

Every person employed for a period or shift starting before eleven o’clock in the morning (11:00 a.m.) and continuing later than seven o’clock in the evening (7:00 p.m.) shall be allowed an additional meal period of at least twenty (20) minutes between five o’clock in the evening (5:00 p.m.) and seven o’clock in the evening (7:00 p.m.).

Every person employed for a period or shift of more than six (6) hours starting between the hours of one o’clock in the afternoon (1:00 p.m.) and six o’clock in the morning (6:00 a.m.), shall be allowed at least sixty (60) minutes for a meal period when employed in or in connection with a factory, and forty-five (45) minutes for a meal period when employed in or in connection with a mercantile or other establishment or occupation coming under the provision of this chapter, at a time midway between the beginning and end of such employment. The commissioner may permit a shorter time to be fixed for meal periods than provided. The permit therefore shall be in writing and shall be kept conspicuously posted in the main entrance of the establishment. Such permits may be revoked at any time.

The commissioner may permit a shorter time to be fixed for meal periods than provided. The permit therefore shall be in writing and shall be kept conspicuously posted in the main entrance of the establishment. Such permits may be revoked at any time.

In administering this statute, the Department applies the following interpretations and guidelines:

Employee Coverage: Section 162 applies to every “person” in any establishment or occupation covered by the Labor Law. Accordingly, all categories of workers are covered, including white-collar management staff.

Shorter Meal Periods: The Department will permit a shorter meal period of not less than 30 minutes as a matter of course, without application by the employer, so long as there is no indication of hardship to employees. A meal period of not less than 20 minutes will be permitted only in special or unusual cases after investigation and issuance of a special permit.

One Employee Shift: In some instances where only one person is on duty or is the only one in a specific occupation, it is customary for the employee to eat on the job without being relieved. The Department of Labor will accept these special situations as compliance with Section 162 where the employee voluntarily consents to the arrangements. However, an uninterrupted meal period must be afforded to every employee who requests this from an employer.

For further legal information, see NY Labor Law 162.


Nursing Mother Breaks

New York labor laws require employers to provide reasonable unpaid breaks each day to employees who are nursing mothers to express breast milk for up to three (3) years. Additionally, employers may permit employees who are nursing mothers to use available paid meals or break time to express breast milk.

Employers must provide employees who are nursing mothers with private rooms or other locations in close proximity to their work areas where they may express milk in privacy. Employers may not discriminate against employees who are nursing mothers who choose to breast milk in the workplace.

NY Labor Law 206-C


Vacation Leave

New York does not require employers to provide their employees with unpaid or paid sick leave. However, if an employer offers such benefits to its employees, it must comply with the terms established in the employment contract or vacation leave policy.

New York does not have legislation that states whether or not an employer can implement a policy requiring employees to forfeit accrued vacation hours upon the end of the contract or separation from employment, regardless of the reason.

However, if the contract requires it, an employer must pay an employee for accrued vacation hours upon the end of the contract or separation from employment. An employer may also cap the amount of vacation leave that an employee may accrue over a given period. Employers may also implement a use-it or lose-it policy.

Some workers may be eligible for paid time off. More information about vacation leave may now be found on our New York Leave Laws page.


Sick Leave

Employers are required to provide mandatory paid time off for sick leave to their employees, based on the size of the employer.

New York requires employers to provide all employees with paid sick leave. However, if the employer has four or fewer employees who have a net income of $1,000,000 or less, the employer may provide unpaid sick leave.

If an employer has 100 or more employees, an employer must provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year. If the employer has anywhere between 5 and 99 employees, they must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year. In addition, an employer must adhere to all sick leave terms set out in the employment contract or sick leave policy.

Further information about sick leave may now be found on our New York Leave Laws page.


Holiday Leave

New York does not require private employers to provide employees with unpaid or paid holiday leave. In addition, a private employer may also require an employee to work on holidays. However, a private employer does not have to pay an employee with premium pay, such as 1.5 times the regular rate, for working holidays.

This is the case unless such time also qualifies the employee for overtime hours under standard federal overtime laws. However, if an employer provides unpaid or paid holiday leave to their employees, it must adhere to the terms established in the employment contract or holiday leave policy. In addition, there are New York state holidays that are officially recognized and observed.

Legal information about holiday leave laws may now be found on our New York Leave Laws page.


Family Leave

Employers may be required to provide paid family leave. As of January 2018, if you work for a private employer, you may be eligible for paid time off for family leave. The State’s Paid Family Leave Act covers new parents, family caregivers, and military families with active duty deployment, in addition to federal paid family leave. This includes time taken off for the birth of a new child (maternity leave and paternity leave). See the New York Paid Family Leave website for more legal information.


Jury Duty Leave

In New York, if an employer has more than 10 employees, they must pay an employee the first $40 of the regular daily wages for the first three days of jury service. However, an employer does not have to pay an employee for serving jury duty in all other cases.

However, employees are required to allow employees to serve jury duty as the law states. Moreover, employers are not allowed to penalize or discharge an employee for jury duty as long as the employee notifies the employer before the commencement of jury duty.

Legal information about jury duty leave may now be found on our New York Leave Laws page.


Voting Leave

New York requires employers to provide their employees with time off work so that they can vote. An employee’s off-duty hours and time off hours combined must give the employee sufficient time to vote while polls are open. Moreover, only two hours of voting leave must be paid. If an employee has four or more consecutive off-duty hours to vote, it will not be paid.

Legal information about voting leave laws may now be found on our New York Leave Laws page.


Severance Pay

The State does not require employers to provide workers with severance pay. NY Dept. of Labor FAQs. If an employer chooses to provide severance benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.


Unemployment

Under certain circumstances, NY residents may be eligible for unemployment benefits while they search for another job. You are required to certify that you are unemployed on a weekly basis to receive these benefits.

To qualify for unemployment benefits in New York, you must have worked and been paid wages in at least two calendar quarters in the base period. In addition, you must have earned at least $2,900 in wages in one of the calendar quarters, and the total wages paid to you in the base period must be at least one and a half times that of your high quarter wages. You must also be ready, able, and willing to work and actively seek work, and you must not be unemployed due to any fault of your own.

See NY State Unemployment Benefits.


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