Are You Prepared? Top Five Compliance Concerns For New York City Employers in 2014

January 14, 2014
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As New York City employers settle into the New Year, there are a number of new compliance concerns on the horizon.

Since preparedness for compliance concerns are one of the most effective ways to avoid unintended liability, below is a brief summary of the top five new issues that may impact your New York business in 2014.

Minimum Wage Increase:

Effective December 31, 2013, New York’s minimum wage increased from $7.25 to $8.00. The new law also requires employers to pay exempt executive and administrative employees at least $600.00 per week. Additional incremental increases for both sets of employees are scheduled to take place over the next two years.

New Notice Requirements:

Starting this month, New York employers will have to comply with notice requirements mandated by the Wage Theft Prevention Act. It requires employers to give written notice of wage rates to all employees by February 1 of each year. The notice must include: rate or rates of pay, including overtime rate of pay (if it applies); how the employee is paid: by the hour, shift, day, week, commission, etc.; regular payday; official name of the employer and any other names used for business (DBA); address and phone number of the employer’s main office or principal location; and allowances taken as part of the minimum wage (tips, meal and lodging deductions).

Pregnancy Discrimination:

On January 30, 2014, new amendments to the New York City Human Rights Law regarding pregnancy discrimination take effect. The amended law requires employers with four or more workers to provide “reasonable accommodation” for pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. Employers seeking to deny the accommodation must show that it would result in an “undue hardship” or that the employee could not, even if provided the requested accommodation, perform the essential duties of the job.

Mandatory Paid Sick Leave:

On April 1, 2014, the New York City Earned Sick Time Act becomes effective for businesses that employ 20 or more workers. Under the mandatory sick leave law, affected employers must provide both full and part-time workers with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave every year. Employers with paid-time off policies are not required to offer additional leave, so long as the policy meets the requirements of the new law. These requirements will then apply to businesses with 15 or more employees on or after October 1, 2015.

Worker Misclassification:

Late last year, the officials of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, the New York State Labor Department, and the New York State Attorney General’s Office announced a joint initiative to combat worker misclassification by New York employers. While employers may continue to use properly classified independent contractors, they must also be mindful that proper classification depends on a number of highly fact-intensive, legal factors.  All such assessments must be thoughtful and legal as such determinations may be subjected to the intense, critical scrutiny of federal and state regulators.  Incorrect determinations by employers can lead to painful and expensive damage assessments for back wages, overtime, Workers’ Compensation claims and ERISA violations.

Of course, these are just five of the upcoming regulatory and compliance concerns impacting New York City employers. New legal protections for unpaid interns and victims of workplace bullying are just two of the “hot topics” on the legislative agenda for the coming year. Employers are advised to stay on top of all new legal developments and discuss any concerns with an experienced attorney.