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New York Labor Law and Minimum Wages in 2017

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Labor laws and the rights of individuals working in New York City are outlined in various laws at both state and city levels. New York State and New York City governments each have roles in defining rules that have an impact on employees. These rules include requirements related to how much a worker should earn and what benefits they are entitled to receive, including paid sick leave and overtime.

Minimum Wage

As part of the 2016-17 State Budget, Governor Cuomo signed legislation enacting a statewide $15 minimum wage plan that will lift the earnings of more than 2.1 million New Yorkers, in all industries across the state. The minimum wage may vary depending on the sector or industry. Regulations known as ‘Wage Orders’ establish industry-specific rates that differ from the general minimum wage rate.

General Minimum Wage Rate Schedule
Location 12/31/16 12/31/17 12/31/18 12/31/19 12/31/20 2021*
NYC – Big Employers (of 11 or more) $11.00 $13.00 $15.00
NYC – Small Employers (10 or less) $10.50 $12.00 $13.50 $15.00
Long Island & Westchester $10.00 $11.00 $12.00 $13.00 $14.00 $15.00
Remainder of New York State Workers $9.70 $10.40 $11.10 $11.80 $12.50 *

* Annual increases for the rest of the state will continue until the rate reaches $15 minimum wage (and $10 tipped wage). Starting 2021, the annual increases will be published by the Commissioner of Labor on or before October 1. They will be based on percentage increases determined by the Director of the Division of Budget, based on economic indices, including the Consumer Price Index.

*Tipped food service workers rate is unchanged at $7.50 until 12/31/2017.


Vacation and Sick Leave

Under the New York state law, employers are not required to pay workers for any time that is not actually worked or required. As a result, employees do not have a right to paid holidays, personal leave, sick days or vacation. It is up to each employer to establish a policy related to paid and unpaid vacation and sick leave, should they decide to do so. If there is a policy related to vacation and/or sick leave, the employer is free to attach any conditions.

In New York City, employers with five or more employees must provide paid sick leave to anyone working for more than 80 hours per calendar year. Employers with less than five employees must provide their workers with unpaid sick leave. Sick leave must also be given to domestic workers who have been employed for at least a year and worked for more than 80 hours in a calendar year. Some workers are not covered by this requirement, including employees subject to a collective bargaining agreement. More information about New York City’s sick leave requirements are available from NYC Consumer Affairs.

Work Hours and Over-time

There are no limits on the number of hours a person can work. Similarly, there are no limits on the number of hours someone can work in any given day except for children under the age of 18. There are also no limits on how early or how late an adult employee can work. Employees working in some occupations and industries must receive at least 24 hours rest in each week. This includes people working in factories, hotels (except resorts or seasonal hotels), restaurants (except small rural restaurants) and mercantile establishments. The requirement for 24 hour rest also applies to elevator operators, watchpersons, janitors and superintendents.

Overtime requirements in New York are based on hours your work in any given payroll week, although it is not mandatory simply because you are working outside of your eight hour work day or during the weekend. Live-in or residential employees are required to receive overtime if they work over 44 hours in a payroll week. Non-residential workers are required to receive overtime when they work over 40 hours in a payroll week. Covered workers must be paid at least one and one-half times their regular hour rate of pay when working outside of these weekly hours. Additional information about overtime pay is available from the U.S. Department of Labor.


More information about labor standards and employment laws in New York is available from the New York State Department, which also has helpful answers to frequently asked questions.

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Flexible Working Trends in New York

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For several decades, the predominant corporate culture in the United States has been characterised by long working hours and a generalised reticence to taking vacations. However, in recent years flexible working practices have begun to be frequently implemented in companies around the globe in an attempt to provide employees with a better work-life balance. This trend has of course had a direct impact on US-based firms too, and it is estimated that more than 3 million US employees now benefit from flexible work arrangements.

As one of the most prosperous and forward-looking cities in the country, New York has led the way with regards to the implementation of flexible working practices. This article provides an overview of the progress made so far, as well as a review of the most flexible workplaces in New York.

Flexible Work Arrangements in New York: General Trends

According to data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, flexible work arrangements are particularly common among New York employees who hold managerial, executive, or administrative roles in the private sector. Within the public sector, New York employees who work for the federal government are more likely to have access to flexible working arrangements than their local or state government counterparts.

Another trend worth mentioning refers to the widespread adoption of flexible working practices across genders and age groups. For example, a New York Times article recently drew attention to the fact that telecommuting is no longer an option limited to mid-career employees, as the typical telecommuter profile has grown to include young graduates and employees close to retirement age irrespective of their gender.

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