Changes to New York’s wage theft act bring good, bad news for employers

by Paul J. Sweeney

An amendment to New York’s Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) removes a requirement that private-sector employers provide wage rate notices to current employees by February 1 of each year.

The WTPA requires private-sector employers to provide written wage rate notices to employees and imposes penalties for noncompliance. Until the change was signed into law on December 29, 2014, the written wage rate notices providing information on employees’ rates of pay or calculation of wages—as well as other wage- and benefit-related information—had to be issued by February 1 of each year.

As the new law goes into effect on February 27, 2015, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s “approval memorandum” accompanying the new law removed the February 1 notice requirement for the 2015 calendar year. The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) has pointed out, however, that employers must still provide employees with a wage rate notice upon hire.

Although the new law removes one requirement, it increases penalties on employers that violate its provisions. Effective February 27, 2015, penalties for employers that fail to provide new employees with the required notice within 10 days of hire will increase from $50 per worker per workweek to $50 per worker per workday, up to a maximum of $5,000. The previous maximum was $2,500. Penalties for not providing employees with earnings statements will increase from $100 per week (and a maximum of $2,500) to $250 per day (and a maximum of $5,000).

The amended WTPA imposes successor employer and contractor liability as well as personal liability for the “top 10” members of a limited liability company. Moreover, it increases civil penalties for employers that have repeat violations within six years of their first violation to a maximum of $20,000. The new law also creates a “wage theft protection account.”

For more information on the amended WTPA, see the January 2015 issue of New York Employment Law Letter.

Paul Sweeney  Paul J. Sweeney is an attorney with Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP in Binghamton, New York. He can be reached at psweeney@cglawoffices.com.

About New York Employment Law Letter:
Excerpted from New York Employment Law Letter and written by attorneys at Sills Cummis & Gross P.C. and Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP. NEW YORK EMPLOYMENT LAW LETTER does not attempt to offer solutions to individual problems but rather to provide information about current developments in New York employment law. Questions about individual problems should be addressed to the employment law attorney of your choice. Contact New York Employment Law Letter editors at Sills Cummis & Gross P.C. or Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP.
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