The new year brings a number of changes to New York employment law, notably the rules governing the minimum wage. The federal government maintains a nationwide minimum wage of $7.25 per hour but many states, including New York, require higher wages. In fact, for many New Yorkers, the minimum wage is now $15 per hour–more than double the federal requirement.
Phasing in the $15 Minimum Wage Across New York State
New York's minimum wage rules are not uniform throughout the state. As of December 31, 2018, the $15 minimum wage applies only to workers in New York City who work for a “big employer,” which is defined as a business with 11 or more employees. For smaller businesses–i.e., 10 employees or less–the current minimum wage is now $13.50 per hour, although that will rise to $15.00 as of December 31, 2019.
If you work in Nassau, Suffolk, of Westchester counties, the new minimum wage is $12 per hour. This will increase by $1 each succeeding year until finally reaching $15 in 2021. For workers in upstate New York–everything north of Westchester–the minimum wage for 2019 is $11.10 per hour. This will increase to $11.80 on December 31, 2019, followed by $12.50 on December 31, 2020. Eventually, the upstate rate will also reach $15 per hour, but the exact timing of this has yet to be determined by the New York State Commissioner of Labor.
How Tipping Affects the Minimum Wage
There are additional minimum wage rules applicable to “tipped workers.” This refers to individuals who regularly receive more than $30 per month in tips. Under current New York law, tipped employees must still receive the applicable minimum wage for their location. But customer tips may be counted towards the actual wages the employer owes. This is known as a “tip credit.”
The specific rules governing the tip credit vary based on the type of job and location. Here are the basic rules governing food service workers:
- For large employers (11 employees or more) in New York City, the employer may take a tip credit of up to $5 per hour.
- For smaller employers in New York City, the employer may take a tip credit of up to $4.50 per hour.
- For all employers in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties, the employer may take a tip credit of up to $4 per hour.
- For all employers in upstate New York, the employer may take a tip credit of up to $3.60 per hour.
Keep in mind, the tip credit only applies to actual cash tips received by the employee. The employer must still pay a cash wage to make up for the difference between the tip credit and the applicable minimum wage for the area.
If your employer is not following the law, and you need to speak with a qualified New York overtime and wage-hour attorney about your situation, contact the Law Offices of Mahir S. Nisar today to schedule an initial consultation.