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May 2016
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So much is happening in the world of employment law that is increasingly difficult to keep track of everything. The following are the most notable issues:
Minimum Wage Is Increasing in New York State

Yes, that is right, minimum wage is on the straight path to $15 per hour.   It will go up gradually and will be different depending upon where the employer is located.
As of December 31, 2015, minimum wage went up for most workers in New York State to $9 per hour. In NYC, minimum wage for fast food workers went up to $10.50.

For workers in New York City employed by large businesses (those with at least 11 employees), the minimum wage will rise to $11 at the end of 2016, then another $2 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2018
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For workers in New York City employed by small businesses (those with 10 employees or fewer), the minimum wage will rise to $10.50 by the end of 2016, then another $1.50 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2019.

For workers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties, the minimum wage will increase to $10 at the end of 2016, then $1 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2021.

For workers in the rest of the state, the minimum wage will increase to $9.70 at the end of 2016, then another .70 each year after until reaching $12.50 on 12/31/2020 - after which the wage will continue to increase to $15 on an indexed schedule to be set by the Director of the Division of Budget in consultation with the Department of Labor .  
The new minimum wage law does provide a safety valve to the increases. Beginning in 2019, the state Budget Director will conduct an annual analysis of the economy in each region and the effect of the minimum wage increases statewide to determine whether a temporary suspension of the scheduled increases is necessary. That analysis will then be submitted to the Department of Labor by the Division of Budget.


Major Change to Definition of Exempt Employee

Until recently, in order for employees to be categorized as exempt from overtime regulations (meaning employees on a weekly or annual salary who are not paid for extra hours over 40), the employee had to be paid more than $23,660 under federal law or $650 per week ($33,800 annually). Because that was a relatively easy threshold to meet, employers focused on the type of duties and responsibilities assigned to the employee to make the argument that the employee was exempt.

All this will change, thanks to the US Department of Labor (DOL). As of December 1, 2016 the minimum salary for many overtime-exempt employees will roughly double from $23,660 to $47,476 under new Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations.
Noteworthy changes from the draft regulations that were proposed include:

Tri-annual adjustments : After going for more than twenty years without change, now the minimum salary level will be automatically adjusted every three years (rather than annually, as originally proposed) based on the 40th percentile level  (rather than the Consumer Price Index, as the DOL had been considering); and
 
Incentive pay: Up to 10% of the salary minimum can come from nondiscretionary bonuses, incentive payments, and commissions, paid at least quarterly (rather than at least monthly, as the DOL had first proposed), with a provision allowing an employer to make a "catch-up" payment each quarter if an employee's average weekly salary falls below the minimum.
  
Family Leave Benefits Will Become Mandatory in New York State
 
Starting January 1, 2018, employees will be eligible to take job-protected paid leave to:
  • Provide care for a family member with a serious health condition; or
  • Take Maternity Leave; or
  • Bond with a child during the first 12 months after the child's birth or placement for adoption or foster care;
The weekly benefit will be based on a percentage of the employee's average weekly wage, but may not exceed the same percentage of the average weekly wage for all workers in New York. The length of leave and the amount of benefits will increase gradually according to the following schedule:
 
Starting in 2018, eight weeks of leave per any 52-week period at 50% of the weekly wage;
 
Starting in 2019, 10 weeks of leave per any 52-week period at 55% of the weekly wage;
 
Starting in 2020, 10 weeks of leave per any 52-week period at 60% of the weekly wage; and
 
Starting in 2021, 12 weeks of leave per any 52-week period at 67% of the weekly wage.
 
The paid family leave program will be funded through employee payroll deductions, so there will be no direct costs to employers.
 
If you have any questions regarding any of the above issues, please contact Chaim Book cbook@mb-llp.com or Todd Parker mparker@mb-llp.com

Welcome to Peter Graham

Peter Graham joins our firm as an associate on June 1, 2016. Peter is a 2015 graduate of University of Minnesota Law School. He also received a Master of Laws degree from Uppsala Universitet in Uppsala, Sweden. Peter can be reached at



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