In December 2010, Governor David A. Patterson signed the Wage Theft Prevention Act into law. The Act is significant because it imposes new notice and recordkeeping requirements on all employers and increases penalties for violations of wage and hour requirements.
The new obligations created by the WTPA are summarized below.
- New York law currently provides that employees must be notified of their rate of pay, regular date of pay and overtime rate. The WTPA mandates that employers inform employees, in writing, of the basis of their pay, the employer’s claimed allowances and the employer’s name, main address and telephone number. These notices must be provided at the time of hire, on or before February 1 each year and at least seven days before any of these required terms are changed. Such notices must be provided in English and in the employee’s primary language.
- The Act increases the period of time that employers must maintain payroll records from three to six years.
- The WTPA enhances the penalties that can be imposed against employers who violate New York’s wage and hour laws. Although several changes were made to the penalty provisions, most significantly, the Act raises potential liquidated damages in private actions from 25% of wages to 100% of wages and it allows employees to recover prejudgment interest and attorney’s fees in actions brought to recover unpaid wages. In the event an employee proves that an employer retaliated against them for reporting a wage or hour violation, liquidated damages of up to $10,000, reinstatement, back pay and lost wages may be imposed against the employer.
Employers in New York should all be aware of these heightened requirements so they can take measures to comply before April 9, 2011, if they have not done so already.
This post was contributed by Kurt E. Bratten.