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New York Adopts New Minimum Wage and Family Leave Legislation

On April 4, 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that will gradually increase the minimum wage across New York State to $15 per hour. The bill also provides employees with up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for the purpose of caring for certain family members.

The minimum wage increases will be phased in via annual adjustments beginning December 31, 2016, when the rate will increase from $9 to $11 in New York City for employers with 11 or more employees. For such employers, the minimum wage will increase to $13 on December 31, 2017, before rising to $15 on December 31, 2018. For smaller employers in New York City, the minimum wage rate will rise at a slower pace and reach $15 on December 31, 2019. On Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk Counties) and in Westchester County, the minimum wage will increase to $15 by 2021, whereas the remaining counties of New York State will not establish a $15 minimum wage until 2021 or later.

Beginning on January 1, 2018, a new paid family leave law will allow certain employees in New York State to be eligible for 12 weeks of paid family leave to provide care for a family member who has a serious health condition; to bond with the employee's child during the first year after the child's birth or adoption; or because of any qualifying need under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) arising out of active duty in the armed forces. As with New Jersey's family leave law (and in contrast to the FMLA), New York State's family leave law will not cover absences resulting from the employee's own medical condition. Like the minimum wage, the available benefits under this program will be phased in, eventually entitling the employee to 67% of the employee's weekly pay, capped at a maximum of 67% of the state's average weekly wage for 12 weeks by January 1, 2021. Importantly, no employer will be required to fund any portion of the family leave benefit, as the benefits will be funded through employee payroll deductions.

All New York State employers should review their current payroll and leave policies to prepare for compliance with the new minimum wage and paid family leave laws as they take effect. 

© 2020 Vedder PriceNational Law Review, Volume VI, Number 122


About this Author

Jonathan A. Wexler, Vedder Price Law Firm, Labor Employment Attorney

Jonathan A. Wexler is a shareholder at Vedder Price and a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Area of the New York office. He represents private-sector, not-for-profit, and public-sector clients in litigation matters in federal and state courts, and before such administrative agencies as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the New York State Division of Human Rights, the National Labor Relations Board, and the New York Department of Labor.

Daniel LaRose, Employment Attorney, Vedder Price Law Firm

Daniel J. LaRose is an Associate at Vedder Price and a member of the Labor & Employment group in the firm's New York office. 

Before entering private practice, Mr. LaRose served as Assistant Corporation Counsel in the Labor & Employment Division of the New York City Law Department. In this position, he independently managed a varied litigation caseload representing the City of New York, its agencies, and officials in federal and state court, as well as the State Division of Human Rights.

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