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 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.
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, minimum wage is currently $12.50 per hour.
The current minimum wage varies depending on the size of the employer and 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 topic covered on other pages include:
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.
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 permit 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 permit 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 meal 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. Employer may not discriminate against employees who are nursing mothers who choose to breast milk in the work place.
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.
Employers are required to provide mandatory paid time off for sick leave to their employees, based on the size of the employer. Further information about sick leave may now be found on our New York Leave Laws page.
Employers may be required to provide holiday leave. Legal information about holiday leave may now be found on our New York Leave Laws page.
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
Legal information about jury duty leave may now be found on our New York Leave Laws page.
Legal information about voting leave laws may now be found on our New York Leave Laws page.
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.
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. See NY State Unemployment Benefits.
- Disability Discrimination (ADA) / Employment Discrimination
- Employment / Age Certification
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees
- NY State Unemployment Benefits