New York State Implements Sweeping Workplace Legislation: Minimum Wage Hike, Non-Disclosure Agreement Restrictions, and More in 2023 and Beyond

NEW YORK (AP) — New York State and New York City have implemented a wave of new workplace legislation that will impact employers in the coming year. These new laws include minimum wage increases, new compensation-related laws, expanded protections against discrimination, and employer compliance mandates. Let’s take a closer look at the key legislation implemented in 2023 and the laws set to take effect in 2024.

Starting with minimum wage increases, the minimum wage rate in New York State has increased from $15 to $16 for workers in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester, and from $14.20 to $15 for workers in the rest of the state. These increases went into effect on January 1. Furthermore, the minimum wage will continue to increase incrementally over the next few years, reaching $17 per hour in certain parts of the state by January 1, 2026. These increases will be automatically tied to inflation using the Consumer Price Index.

In conjunction with the minimum wage increases, the cash wage and tip credit for tipped service employees have also increased. For example, in New York City, the cash wage for tipped service employees went up to $13.35, and the tip credit to $2.65. Similarly, the cash wage for tipped food service workers in the same region increased to $10.65, with the tip credit going up to $5.35. These changes in cash wage and tip credit apply to various regions in the state.

Another significant change is the increase in the salary basis threshold for executive and administrative employees to be classified as exempt. In New York City, Long Island, and Westchester, the threshold rose to $1,200 per week, while in the rest of the state, it rose to $1,125 per week. These thresholds will continue to rise annually.

New York lawmakers have also raised the state’s threshold for applicability of certain wage protections. The salary threshold for bona fide executive, administrative, or professional employees to be exempt from certain wage protection provisions has increased to $1,300 per week. Effective March 13, advance consent will also be required to pay such employees via direct deposit.

Furthermore, New York employers now face greater criminal penalties for engaging in wage theft. Employers who steal employee wages face criminal sanctions, with grand larceny kicking in at $1,000.

In addition to these changes, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr. has created a prosecutorial branch dedicated to investigating and prosecuting wage theft and worker harassment and exploitation. The Worker Protection Unit has the authority to pursue criminal charges against corporations and individuals involved in wage theft.

New York’s statewide pay transparency law also went into effect, requiring employers with four or more employees to disclose compensation or the range of compensation for each position. The law aims to promote transparency and ensure employees are aware of their rights.

The Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which provides protections for freelance workers, will take effect on May 19, 2024. According to the act, hiring parties must provide a detailed written contract and timely and full payment for freelancers.

Furthermore, New York City implemented a minimum pay rate for app-based restaurant delivery workers. Apps that pay for all the time a worker is connected to the app must pay at least $17.96 per hour, while apps that only pay for trip time must pay at least $0.50 per minute of trip time.

New laws have also been introduced to regulate consecutive hours of work for nurses and to protect warehouse workers. These laws aim to ensure proper breaks and standards are in place for these workers.

The expanded protections against discrimination include amending the definition of sexual orientation in the New York State Human Rights Law and expanding the statute of limitations for administrative relief. The Clean Slate Act provides a process to automatically seal most criminal convictions.

Employers are now prohibited from requiring employees to sign over their rights to inventions developed on their own time without using the employer’s resources. Furthermore, employers cannot request or require employees to disclose their personal electronic media account usernames and passwords.

In terms of employer compliance mandates, employers are required to provide employees with notice of their potential eligibility for unemployment benefits and rights when they separate from employment. New legislation has also been enacted regarding artificial intelligence in hiring decisions and the creation of an emergency alert notification system.

Looking ahead to 2024, lawmakers in New York are expected to continue efforts to restrict non-compete agreements and provide paid time off for prenatal care. These initiatives aim to protect worker rights and promote equal opportunities for all.

As the new year begins, it is crucial for employers in New York to review and update their policies and procedures to comply with the new legislation. Staying informed and proactive will help employers navigate the changing legal landscape and ensure compliance with state and city laws.