Perhaps you've heard the excellent news that last Friday, April 1, 2016, the New York State Senate overwhelmingly approved a new minimum wage for New York State of $15 dollars an hour. This was the thrilling culmination of a hard-fought campaign that began years ago, with a small group of activists dedicated to the Fight for 15 movement, a movement some considered unreasonable and unrealistic.
There have been wins along the way - last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo set a schedule to raise the wage for chain fast food workers throughout the state. Minimum wages for state workers were also raised. But now we have finally reached the real deal - a binding law that will eventually make every worker in the state (with the usual exceptions for tip based workers) earn at least a true living wage. It is quite a historic moment, and New Yorkers should be proud that their state can boast, along with Pennsylvania, California, and Washington, of being a true early adopter in the fight to provide all working citizens with a basic income.
What you SHOULD know, however, is that the minimum wage isn't going up overnight, not for everyone. Here is the year-by-year schedule of how the minimum wage is going to be raised across the state:
· In 2019, the minimum wage throughout New York City will hit 15 dollars an hour for all businesses with more than ten employees. In the interim there will be annual wage increases.
· In 2020, the minimum wage in New York City will be universally 15 dollars an hour, regardless of business size.
· In 2022, after another series of annual hikes, the minimum wage on Long Island and in Westchester county will be 15 dollars.
· Also in 2022, upstate and western counties in New York will hit the minimum wage of $12.50 an hour. Further increases to $15 will be tied to economic indicators to minimize any harm on small businesses.
The law as passed by the Senate also includes a provision for 12 weeks of paid family leave which is for ALL employees, part time and full time, employed by any business big or small. There's a reason New York Magazine calls it the "strongest and most comprehensive" family leave law in the country.
Congratulations to all New Yorkers who stand to benefit under this new legislation, and remember, if you suspect your employer is not living up to the law including the new minimum wage law, contact Serrins Fisher to speak to a seasoned employment attorney.