As part of the 2016-2017 budget, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into legislation a statewide minimum wage plan of $15.00 and a 12-week paid family leave policy on April 4, 2016. The 12-week paid family leave policy will be funded through a nominal payroll deduction on employees (costing business nothing). The program will begin to phase-in beginning 2018 and become fully implemented in 2021. Employees will be eligible for 12 weeks of paid family leave after having worked for their employer for six months.
The statewide minimum wage is said to lift the earning of more than 2.3 million New Yorkers. The staggering increase in the minimum wage is set to increase by region, as follows:
- for workers in New York City employed by businesses with 11 or more employees, the minimum wage will increase to $11.00 by the end of 2016, and then an additional $2.00 each year thereafter until it reaches $15.00 on December 31, 2018,
- for workers in New York City employed by businesses with 10 or fewer employees, the minimum wage will increase to $10.50 by the end of 2016, and then by an additional $1.50 each year thereafter until it reaches $15.00 on December 31, 2019,
- for workers in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, the minimum wage will increase to $10.00 by the end of 2016, and then by $1.00 each year thereafter until reaching $15.00 on December 31, 2021,
- for workers in the rest of the state, the minimum wage will only increase to $9.70 by the end of 2016, and then another $.70 each year thereafter until reaching $12.50 on December 31, 2020; following that, it will continue to increase to $15.00 based on an indexed schedule that is to be set by the Director of the Division of Budget in consultation with the Department of Labor.
Annual analysis of the economy in each region, to be submitted by the Department of Labor by the Division of Budget, will take place in 2019 to determine the effects of the minimum wage increases in efforts to determine if a temporary suspension of the scheduled increase is necessary.
Employers who do not comply with the Minimum Wage Law are subject to orders to pay: back wages, interest (16 percent), liquidated damages, and fines (which can total up to 200 percent of the missing wages). Criminal prosecution and penalties may also be imposed. Accordingly, it is important to remain in compliance and up to date with the scheduled increases in the minimum wage.