The Fair Labor Standards Act covers over 130 million Americans and sets federal standards for things like minimum wages, hours of work and overtime pay. Each state also retains its own laws covering wages and benefits and can set a higher standard than that provided under the federal law.


Since the end of 2017, New York City’s minimum wage stands at $13.00 an hour for companies with more than 11 employees. This is significantly higher than the federal minimum wage. This minimum will also rise again at the end of 2018 to $15.00 an hour. 

Over the next few years, the minimum wage in other parts of the state, and for smaller employers, will continue to increase annually.  The goal is to ultimately maintain a $15.00 an hour minimum wage in all parts of the state, for all employers.


An employer must pay overtime if an employee works more than 40 hours in any given week, and the standard overtime pay rate stands at one-and-a-half times their normal pay rate. Live-in workers get overtime after 44 hours of work in a given week. 

New York follows the same exclusions as the federal law when it comes to exempting certain workers. These include some commission-based sales employees, farm workers, seasonal industries, and salary-based employees among others.

Holidays, Sick Time and Vacations

There is no obligation under the New York state labor laws to pay employees for time that they don’t actually work. That means the employer chooses whether or not to provide benefits like vacation pay, sick pay and personal leave. However, all employers must inform their employees in writing, or post in the workplace, their policy when it comes to providing these benefits. The employer then must abide by their policy at all times, and consider it as part of the employees’ working conditions. Employees can also rely on an unwritten policy if they can demonstrate that everyone knows and understands the employer’s practice and that they provide particular benefits for work.

Accrued Benefits

If an employer’s policy allows employees to accrue vacation time, they must pay out any unused portion when an employee quits or is terminated – unless they’ve specifically indicated in writing that these benefits are lost after employment. Unlike many other states, the New York Division of Labor Standards will investigate claims from employees for unpaid supplements as well as unpaid wages. This can include claims for vacation accrual, unused sick leave, and the reimbursement of expenses. 

The New York Division of Labour Standards sets the bar for wages and benefits in the state, but individual employers are free to write their own policies and procedures as long as they meet the minimum threshold. In most cases, wages and benefits confine to what the employer includes in their written policies, but past practice may also affect an employee’s entitlement to fringe benefits. An attorney can help ensure that your wages and benefits comply with state requirements, and are clearly understood by all employees.


Posted in: Employment Law

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