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New Obligations Under the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act

August 23, 2011

From April 9th, 2011 onward, employers must comply with significant new procedural obligations under New York State’s recent Wage Theft Prevention Act. The first major change is the requirement of employers to provide every employment with written notification of information such as rates of pay, allowances, the regular payday, the employer’s full name and physical address, overtime rates, etc. This information must be provided both at the time of hire and annually. Furthermore, these notifications must be in writing (not transmitted electronically), they must be provided in English as well as the employee’s primary language, employers must receive written acknowledgement that the notification was received, both the notice and acknowledgement must be preserved for six years, and employees must be notified of any changes to the information at least seven days prior.

Another component of the Act makes it mandatory for employers to include certain information with each wage payment, if not already done so in a pay stub. The accompanying statement must include the dates of work covered by the payment, the rates of pay and whether the employee is being paid by the hour, shift, day, week, salary, commission, etc., the gross wages, deductions, and net wages, the allowances claimed by the employer, and overtime rates.

While the new obligations may seem bothersome administratively and logistically, the Act has increased the penalties for failing to comply with the requirements. These penalties include financial costs in the form of fines, which increase as the violation is left unaddressed. Additionally, employees now have the right to recover damages, and if in violation, employers may be required to post a summary of found violations in a place visible to employees. Furthermore, the Act has new retaliation provisions, which expand the prohibition against retaliatory conduct, as well as those who are prohibited from retaliating. Thus, while these new obligations may seem unnecessary or trivial to employers, they are crucial in protecting employees under the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act.