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January 25, 2011
New York Signs New Wage Theft Protections into Law

In December 2010, former Governor David Paterson signed the Wage Theft Prevention Act into law. The act, SB 8380, expands wage notice and recordkeeping requirements for employers, increases penalties for employers that fail to pay full wages due, and expands the state’s enforcement powers.

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Effective April 12, 2011, employers must provide a written notice to all employees both at hiring and annually on or before February 1 that includes the rate plus the basis of pay, whether by the hour, shift, day, piece, salary, commission, or other basis; any allowances, such as tips, meals, or lodging, claimed as part of the minimum wage; and the employer’s address, phone number, and any “doing business as” names, among other information.

Employers must obtain signed, dated acknowledgments, provided in English and in the worker’s primary language, of receipt of the notices. Any changes to the terms must be conveyed to workers in writing at least 7 calendar days in advance or included on pay stubs.

In addition, employers must provide pay statements showing rates and hours of regular pay and overtime pay, as applicable. Commission and piece pay must also be specified. Employers must maintain these notices and all payroll records for 6 years.

The Act also increases civil penalties for violations of wage laws from 25 percent of wages due to 100 percent, for a total recovery of as much as double the unpaid wages. In addition, it allows employees to collect a civil penalty of $50 per week, up to a total of $2,500, from employers that fail to provide preemployment pay notices, and $100 per week, up to $2,500, from employers whose pay statements fail to include the required information. The Act further provides for recovery of legal fees and interest, and permits the labor commissioner to file complaints to enforce the penalties.

In addition, the Act expands liability for criminal charges to include partnerships and limited liability corporations and their officers and agents, increases criminal penalties for wage violations, and increases whistleblower protections for workers who report them.

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