NY Board recommends $15 minimum wage

The Fast Food Wage Board filed its report and recommendations with the New York State Department of Labor on July 31, 2015, recommending that the minimum wage be raised to $15.00 per hour for employees in fast food establishments.

The Commissioner of Labor convened the Wage Board on May 20, 2015, to inquire into and report and recommend adequate minimum wages and regulations for workers in fast food chains, pursuant to Labor Law Sections 653(1) and 659.1 (see Payroll Management Guide Newsletter, Issue No. 2406, dated May 19, 2015). A series of meetings and hearings were held in June and July of 2015.

In its report, the Wage Board recommends that the increase be phased in over time, with accommodation made for small enterprises, to reach $15 per hour in New York City by December 31, 2018, and by July 1, 2021 for the rest of the state.

For areas outside of New York City, the Wage Board gave the following reasons for the delay in reaching the $15 minimum wage standard: “(1) that New York City fast food restaurants have faster sales growth than those outside of New York City; and (2) the City has greater private sector employment growth than the rest of the state as well as greater population density and tourism traffic and higher cost of living.” In addition, “to address concerns that new and future chains will have an opportunity to develop the operational and financial resources to absorb the increase,” the Wage Board recommends that the $15 minimum wage rate be applied “only to fast food chains with 30 or more locations nationally, since chains of this size are better equipped to absorb a wage increase due to greater operational and financial resources, and brand recognition.”

The Fast Food Wage Board recommends the minimum wage increases to take place according to the following schedule.

For New York City, the minimum wage would increase to:

• $10.50 on December 31, 2015,
• $12.00 on December 31, 2016,
• $13.50 on December 31, 2017, and
• $15.00 on December 31, 2018.

For the rest of the state, the minimum wage would increase to:

• $9.75 on December 31, 2015,
• $10.75 on December 31, 2016,
• $11.75 on December 31, 2017,
• $12.75 on December 31, 2018,
• $13.75 on December 31, 2019,
• $14.50 on December 31, 2020, and
• $15.00 on July 1, 2021.

A copy of the “Report of the Fast Food Wage Board to the NYS Commissioner of Labor” is available online at www.labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/pdfs/Fast-Food-Wage-Board-Report.pdf.

Any objections to the recommendations must be filed by August 15, 2015, by regular mail to NYS Dept. of Labor Wage Board Objections, Building 12, Room 586, State Office Campus, Albany, NY 12240, or by e-mail at wageboard@labor.ny.gov. (New York State Department of Labor, Press Release, July 31, 2015, http://www.labor.ny.gov/pressreleases/2015/july-31-2015.shtm).

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