New York Kicks off 2018 with Increases to Minimum Wage and New Paid Family Leave Benefit

The New Year brought some welcome change for New Yorkers
with continuing increases to the minimum wage plus new paid leave benefits for caregivers who need time off to help loved ones.

In April, 2016, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation that impacts two important features for workers in New York State.

One of the measures of the legislation is a graduated process for raising the statewide minimum wage to $15. The wage increase is expected to impact 2.3 million people throughout the state.

Based on the location of the employer and number of employees, the wage increases are rolling out on schedule. By December 31, 2018, New York City employers with 11 or more workers should reach the $15 rate while workers in other part of New York State may not reach that rate until well after 2021.

The pay rate for fast food workers throughout the state will reach $15 by July 2021, but the increase does not impact tipped food service workers in the same way. The cash wage for tipped food service workers for New York City employers with 11 or more employees will rise to $10 by December 31, 2018. For tipped food service workers in smaller New York City businesses, the wage will reach $10 by December 31, 2019.

For employers of tipped food service workers in many parts of the state, the maximum hourly tip credit will rise to $5.00 between December 2018 and 2021. Businesses outside of New York City, Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk counties are not on the same wage credit increase schedule.

Paid Family Leave for workers in New York State

In January, New York began phasing in a new benefits program. The Paid Family Leave benefit will increase over a period of four years, offering eight weeks time off in 2018 and reaching the maximum 12 weeks off by 2021. Consider these points about the benefit:

  • Most people who work for private employers are eligible. Public employers can opt in, and public employees in a union may be eligible if Paid Family Leave is part of their collective bargaining package.
  • The program ensures the maintenance of health insurance while workers are on Paid Family Leave, and that job protection is in place to provide you the same or a similar job upon your return.
  • During 2018, compensation during Paid Family Leave is 50 percent of your annual weekly wage or up to 50% of the New York State Average Weekly Wage. By 2021, the benefit will be 67 percent of your annual weekly wage, or up to 67 percent of the state Average Weekly Wage.
  • The benefit is provided by an insurance policy maintained by your employer and paid for by nominal payroll deductions from your wages. In 2018, the payroll contribution will be 0.126% of your weekly wage and is capped at $85.58 per year. For an employee who earns about $519 per week, the cost is about .65 cents per week.
  • Time off will run concurrently for workers who qualify for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act and Paid Family Leave. For employees taking short-term disability, Paid Family Leave will commence when short-term disability ends.

These important benefits provide relief and some financial stability for workers and the families they support in New York State.

Speak with an experienced wage attorney in New York City today

Cilenti & Cooper, PLLC provides strong, knowledgeable guidance and legal representation to workers in the New York Metropolitan area who are not being paid their legal wages or overtime compensation. If you have questions about whether your wages are being paid appropriately, contact us or call (718) 682-7712.