Minimum Wage in New York Set to Rise as of December 31, 2018

By Douglas Lipsky

In case you were not aware, the minimum wage is set to increase again throughout the State of New York on December 31, 2018. Legislation was included in the 2016-17 state budget enacting a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2020 in all industries. The first wage increases went into effect on December 31, 2016, with annual adjustments scheduled until the minimum wage reaches the $15/hour target.

The legislative initiative, designed to lift the earnings of the 2.1 million low-wage workers in the state, has been controversial as small businesses have been forced to cut costs to accommodate the wage increases. In some cases, this has led employers, particularly in the retail sector, to cut  weekly employee hours, which has the net effect of lowering their take home pay. In any event, failing to abide by the minimum wage guidelines violates New York’s Wage Theft Prevention Act.

New York Minimum Wage Rates

The minimum wage varies based on location, and, in New York City, the size of the employer. The following minimum wage rates are effective beginning December 31, 2018:

  • New York City — employers with 11 or more employees, $15/hour/10 or fewer employees, $13.50/hour
  • Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties — all employers, $12/hour
  • Employers outside of NYC, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester — $11.10/hour

It is important to note that workers in the fast food industry, and tipped workers in the hospitality industry are also slated for minimum wage increase, according to a set schedule (here).  The federal minimum wage has not changed. It, in fact, has not changed since 2009: $7.25/hour.

New York Minimum Annual Salary Thresholds

In addition, for exempt employees to remain exempt (i.e., not entitled to overtime), the required minimum annual salary threshold is also in effect as of Dec. 31:

  • New York City — employers with 11 or more employees, $58,500 ($1,125 per week), 10 or fewer employees, $42, 650 ($1, 012.50)
  • Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties — all employers, $46,800
  • Employers outside of NYC, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester — $43,264

It is worth noting that bonuses, incentive pay, and commissions cannot be counted to reach the minimum. Non-exempt employees are required to be paid overtime for all hour worker over 40 hours per week at at rate of 1 and ½ times the hourly rate. An employer that fails to meet these annual salary thresholds and miss classifies its employees as exempt may be subject to penalties under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the WTPA.

In addition, under the WTPA, employers must provide written notices to all new hires informing them of certain information such as :

  • Pay rates (including overtime)
  • Pay schedule
  • How the employee is paid, hourly, weekly, commission, etc.
  • Allowances — meals, tips

Why This Matters

Employers have a duty to abide by state and federal employment laws, including Wage and Hour laws. Unfortunately, wage theft is not uncommon, particularly in the hospitality industry, where tip credits and tip pooling often disguise wage theft. Wage abuses are also pervasive in the construction sector, due in part to its reliance on undocumented workers.

The best way for employers to meet their obligations, and for workers to enforce their rights, is by working with an experienced employment law attorney. When you become a client of Lipsky Lower, you will have strength in your corner and unmatched legal representation.


About the Author
Douglas Lipsky is a co-founding partner of Lipsky Lowe LLP. He has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, including discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, unpaid overtime, and unpaid tips. He also represents clients in complex wage and hour claims, including collective actions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and class actions under the laws of many different states. If you have questions about this article, contact Douglas today.