Happy new year! Hopefully you enjoyed your holidays and are looking forward to this new year. Of course, sometimes moving forward requires looking back. The end of 2021 came with many new legal developments in New York – here are a few reminders.
Minimum Wage and Minimum Salary
On December 31, 2021, the minimum wage and minimum salary for exempt employees increased in New York State outside of New York City.
Like in New York City, the minimum wage for Long Island and Westchester is now $15.00 per hour. For the remainder of the state, the minimum wage increased to $13.20.
Unless employees are exempt from overtime pay requirements, they must also receive overtime pay at a rate of time and one-half of their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in a week over forty. For the most common “white-collar” exemptions, to be properly classified as exempt depends upon an employee’s salary and the employee’s duties.
With respect to the salary component of the exemption test, the minimum salary most exempt employees can earn in New York City and, now also, in Long Island and Westchester, is $1,125 per week ($58,500 annually). The minimum salary for the rest of the state is $990 per week ($51,480).
While this new year brought no new minimum wage requirements for New York City, the City Council did pass a new law requiring employers with four or more employees to include minimum and maximum salary information in job postings for any positions located within New York City. If signed by the mayor, this law will take effect 120 days after signing.
New Protections Against Retaliation
In October 2021, New York significantly expanded its narrow whistleblower law. The amended law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees, former employees, and independent contractors for:
- disclosing or threatening to disclose, to a supervisor or public body, an activity, policy or practice of the employer that the individual reasonably believes violates any law, rule or regulation (including an executive order and judicial and administrative rulings), or that the employee reasonably believes constitutes a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety;
- providing information to, or testifying before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry into any such activity, policy or practice by the employer; or
- objecting to, or refusing to participate in any such activity, policy or practice.
This law becomes effective January 26, 2022. Employers must post a notice of rights in the workplace and should update their policies accordingly.
Vaccinations and Time Off
Employers have been inundated with information and new requirements regarding covid-19 and vaccinations. For some time, employers in New York State have been required to provide paid leave for employees receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.
The New York Department of Labor recently clarified that this requirement, providing up to four hours of paid leave, is for each vaccination, including boosters. This paid leave is separate from and in addition to the state’s sick leave law requirements.
In New York City, employers are also entitled to an additional four hours of paid time off per COVID-19 vaccination to get their children vaccinated or to care for their children suffering vaccine side effects.
In addition to making sure company policies and practices comply with these new requirements, with so many individuals testing positive for COVID-19 lately, it’s also a good idea for all employers to ensure they are complying with the state’s paid COVID-19 leave requirements for employees under an order of quarantine.