IMPORTANT RECENT LEGISLATION By: Kasandra Zaeri

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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR’S NEW OVERTIME REGULATIONS   On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor published the new overtime regulations that will go into effect on December 1, 2016. Previously, an employee was considered exempt from overtime pay if their salary level exceeded $455 per week ($23,660 per year) and they held a “white collar” position that was classified as either “executive, administrative, or professional.1” The new regulation sets the threshold at $913 per week ($47,476 per year) which means an employee whose fixed salary is below this threshold and whose position is classified as “white collar” must be paid time and a half after 40 hours. This federal standard will exceed New York’s current minimum salary threshold of $35,100. For this reason, the DOL urges employers to review current salary levels and determine which employees will now be overtime eligible and should either revise hourly rates or prepare to compensate for the overtime hours worked. With this in mind, employers may also need to update their timekeeping programs in order to effectively track the hours worked by these newly eligible employees. NEW YORK’S NEW FAMILY LEAVE ACT  Once in effect, the Act will mandate up to 12 weeks of paid leave to bond with a child2, take care of an immediate family member who is gravely ill, or spend time with a family member who is called into military duty. It will apply to both full-time and part-time employees who have worked for at least 6 months and have been paying into the program through their payroll deductions beginning in 20183. Moreover, small businesses will also be included and are no longer exempt. This is in comparison to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act which allows for unpaid leave, applies only to employers with more than 50 employees, requires the employee to have worked for 12 months, and only includes full-time workers.    Starting January 1, 2018, employees will be eligible for up to 8 weeks of paid leave per year with 50% of their weekly salary. In 2019 and 2020 there will be eligibility for up to 10 weeks of paid leave with 55% and 60% of their weekly salary. Finally, in 2021, there will be eligibility for the full 12 weeks of paid leave to be used and the maximum pay permitted will be two-thirds of New York’s average weekly wage (the 2015 average was $1,296.48). NEW YORK’S $15 MINIMUM WAGE  Beginning December 31, 2016, the minimum wage throughout the State of New York will begin its progressive increase plan to reach $15 an hour. In New York City, the wage will rise to $11 at the end of this year and increase $2 each year thereafter, reaching $15 on December 31, 2018. For workers in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester County, the wage will rise to $10 at the end of this year and increase $1 every year until December 31, 2021. For the rest of New York State, the increase will be more gradual. By the end of this year, the wage will increase to $9.70 and will rise at 70-cents per hour yearly increments until December 31, 2020 when the wage will peak at $12.50 per hour. Thereafter, the minimum wage will increase on an indexed schedule to be set by the Director of Budget in consultation with the New York State Commissioner of Labor.

  1 See https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/fs17a_overview.htm.

2 The child may be biological, adopted, or fostered.

3 The Act is funded on an insurance model where roughly a dollar per week will be deducted from employee paychecks.

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