During the flurry of activity in Albany prior to lawmakers’ summer hiatus, the New York State legislature approved a bill that will eliminate the onerous requirement of providing annual wage notices to all employees. As New York employers are aware, the existing New York Wage Theft Prevention Act requires that wage notices be provided to new employees at the time of hiring and to all existing employees on a yearly basis between January 1 and February 1. Employers also must provide notice when there is a change to wage information, except that employers may do so via a compliant paystub rather than a separate wage notice.
In a move that will be welcomed by employers, the recently-passed bill eliminates the annual notice requirement. Although employers will still be required to provide pay notices at the time of hiring, elimination of the annual requirement will save employers from the administrative burden.
However, the legislation increases the civil and private damages for failure to provide notices at the time of hire. For actions brought by the New York Department of Labor (NYDOL), civil penalties increase from $50 per week to $50 per day. For private actions, the available damages for affected employees increase from $100 per week to $250 per day with a cap of $2,500 to $12,500 per employee. The legislation also increases the NYDOL civil penalty for failure to provide required paystub information from $100 per day to $250 per day. Additionally, where violation of the law is “willful or egregious,” the NYDOL may require that employers report wage data that will be published on its website. Finally, the bill contains language intended to increase joint liability among successor entities and limited liability corporations.
The bill is now subject to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s consideration and signature. We will continue to monitor the legislation ahead of its possible adoption ahead of the January-February 2015 annual wage notice period.