Albany, NY - March 21st, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued a warning to employers not complying with the state’s minimum wage laws, emphasizing that failure to comply can result in fines, charges and civil or even criminal punishment. Resources, including one-on-one support and a streamlined reporting process, are available to help businesses come into compliance with the minimum $8.00 per hour that went into effect on December 31. A business in need of assistance or a worker looking to file a complaint should call: 1-888-469-7365 to be routed the minimum wage hotline.
“It is a crime for businesses not to pay employees properly and those flouting the law will be held accountable,” said Governor Cuomo. “It’s unacceptable and it’s not how we do things here in New York. Any employer with questions should contact the Department of Labor directly. Any worker who believes they are not being paid their proper wage should contact the department immediately so that authorities can take swift action.”
As a result of a change in law increasing the minimum wage last year, the minimum wage in New York State is increasing in a series of three annual increments: $8.00 on 12/31/13, $8.75 on 12/31/14 and $9.00 on 12/31/15.
The Department of Labor, which enforces the minimum wage law, has been offering updated posters, summary rate sheets, frequently asked questions and additional resources for all employers and employees on its website: www.labor.ny.gov/minimumwage.
The Department of Labor began conducting proactive outreach regarding the increase to businesses, employer organizations and community groups late last year. The agency hosted a series of webinars for employers, which were recorded and remain available on the agency’s website: www.labor.ny.gov/wagewebinars. The agency also trained staff to educate the public and employers on all the specific requirements of the new minimum wage rates.
The agency is working directly with businesses to clear up confusion, to fix and avoid mistakes and to ensure that they are complying with the new minimum wage. Since the new minimum wage took effect, 374 cases have been opened based on employee complaints over alleged minimum wage and overtime law violations. In 19 of these cases, where the only complaint was failure to pay the new minimum wage, the department made immediate contact with the employer to correct any errors and to ensure retroactive correction. The other cases require further investigation.
Additional outreach and education continues to ensure compliance. The agency recently solicited comments from all employers and employees regarding the regulations that govern the minimum wage and continues to reach out to a wide range of business sectors including restaurant and hospitality, retail, manufacturing and more. To that end, the agency will be reminding businesses about the minimum wage change in upcoming presentations about available business services to more than 110 chambers of commerce. The department will similarly present to trade organizations later this spring.
“Increasing the spending power of working families when they need it most translates to more money in local economies and, in turn, more businesses creating jobs,” said Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera. “Not paying workers their proper wage hurts that employee, his or her family and the whole community. It will not be tolerated in New York State.”
In addition to reminding employers and employees about the increase in minimum wage, the Department is also actively engaged in addressing claims filed alleging wage theft. In 2013, the Department of Labor disbursed nearly $23 million to workers who were not paid their proper wages, overtime pay or fringe benefits. That is an increase of more than 12 percent over 2012.
In fact, the total number of wages and interest recovered by the Department of Labor and distributed to workers has increased significantly over the past seven years. Between 2007 and 2013, there has been a 77 percent increase in the amount distributed.
Any business or individual with questions about minimum wage should call: 1-888-469-7365 or e-mail: LSAsk@labor.ny.gov. Your call will be routed to a designated individual to answer all minimum wage questions.