If you are an employer with New York-based workers or have employees that regularly work in New York, it is that time of year again! Despite lobbying efforts last year to repeal the annual notice requirement of New York State’s Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA), the law is still in effect. Non-compliance with this law could lead to the assessment of substantial penalties by the New York Department of Labor on a per-worker basis.
The WTPA, which was passed in 2010 and became effective in April 2011, requires employers to provide each of their New York workers (including typically exempt or salaried employees like executives, managers and supervisors) with an annual Notice of Pay Rate between January 1 and February 1 of each year. The notice, which can be given electronically, must be in the employee’s primary language as identified by them and is required even if the individual’s pay rate has not changed. It also applies to workers covered by a union contract. In addition to the annual requirement, a new notice must also be provided to all new hires as a stand-alone document and to existing employees if there is a decrease in pay or where information on a prior notice changes. Employers need to obtain a signed acknowledgment from each employee receiving the notice and retain the signed copy for six years.
We have previously explained this and other specific requirements of the WTPA in prior Pepper publications: our December 13, 2010 Client Alert, “New York Passes the Wage Theft Prevention Act, Substantially Increasing Penalties for Wage Payment Violations and Imposing Additional Obligations on Employers,” and our April 1, 2011 Pepper@Work, “April 9, 2011 Deadline for Compliance with the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act.”
Although the New York State Department of Labor makes available several different versions of the notice in English and other languages, employers are not required to use those templates. We encourage clients to use a modified template because some of the forms utilize conflicting or confusing language and call for the optional disclosure of supplemental information not required by the law.
Pepper has counseled many New York employers with WTPA compliance, including preparation and issuance of these notices in paper and electronic form. We are providing to our clients, free of charge, customized form Notices in English and Spanish. If you are interested in using our customized forms, please reach out to your regular Pepper lawyer, any of the attorneys in our Labor & Employment Practice Group, or any of the authors of this Client Alert.
Richard J. Reibstein, Albert Llosas Barrueco and Janet B. Barsky