New York launches multi-agency unit to police minimum wage rules

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that a 200-member multi-agency Minimum Wage Enforcement and Outreach Unit has been launched to ensure that all minimum wage workers are paid the proper rate. The Enforcement and Outreach Unit, which is purportedly the first of its kind in the nation, will also help both businesses and workers understand rights and responsibilities under the new wage regulations. Earlier, Cuomo had signed landmark legislation making New York the first state in the nation to enact a $15 minimum wage.

The first benchmark of the phase-in schedule for the minimum wage increase went into effect on December 31, 2016. Businesses in New York City with 11 or more employees are now required to pay at least $11.00 an hour. Businesses in the city with 10 or fewer employees are required to pay at least $10.50 an hour. The minimum wage in Long Island and Westchester is now $10.00 an hour, while in the rest of the state, the minimum wage is $9.70.

Minimum wage legislation. The $15 minimum wage legislation was passed as part of the 2016-17 state budget, with a phase-in schedule on a regional basis is follows:

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, reaching $15 on December 21, 2018.

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, reaching $15 on December 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, reaching $15 on December 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 until reaching $12.50 on December 31, 2020—after which the minimum 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 state has also launched a new web tool to help workers determine the minimum cash wage that should be paid to them by their employer. Several factors can affect the minimum wage, including the date, the location of employment, and any tips received. (New York Office of the Governor Press Release, January 2, 2017.)

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