Your Guide to New York’s Minimum Wage

new york city skyline
If you’re a business owner in New York, you know that Governor Cuomo signed legislation that calls for an increase in minimum wage and paid leave. But you may still not be clear about the details. Why would you be? With 14 different minimum wages for various sectors and regions, it’s confusing.

Not to worry: We’ve got you covered. This article walks you through everything you need to know about these new minimum wage and paid leave laws that affect your business.

What’s the current minimum wage in New York?

It depends on the location and size of your company. Here’s a quick breakdown of the minimum wage for non-tipped employees:

  • New York City (NYC) businesses with 10 or fewer employees: $10.50
  • NYC businesses with 11 or more employees: $11
  • Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester county businesses for all workforce sizes: $10
What about the minimum wage for workers who make tips?

Again, it depends on your company’s industry and location. These are the details:

Fast food workers:
  • NYC: $12
  • Rest of New York: $10.75
Hospitality service workers:
  • NYC businesses with 11 or more employees: $9.15 and $1.85 in tip credit
  • NYC businesses with 10 or fewer employees: $8.75 and $1.75 in tip credit
  • Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester county businesses for all workforce sizes: $8.35 and $1.65 in tip credit
  • Rest of New York: $8.10 and $1.60 in tip credit
Food service workers:
  • NYC businesses with 11 or more employees: $7.50 and $3.50 in tip credit
  • NYC businesses with 10 or fewer employees: $7.50 and $3 in tip credit
  • Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester county businesses for all workforce sizes: $7.50 and $2.50 in tip credit
  • Rest of New York: $7.50 and $2.20 in tip credit
I heard the minimum wage is supposed to be $15. Is the wage going to continue to increase?

Yes. The minimum wage in New York will continue to increase gradually each year until it reaches $15. This is the wage increase schedule:

  12/31/2017 12/31/2018 12/31/2019 12/31/2020 12/31/2020
NYC 10 or fewer employees $12 $13.50 $15 $15 $15
NYC 11 or more employees $13 $15 $15 $15 $15
Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties $11 $12 $13 $14 $15
Rest of state $10.40 $11.10 $11.80 $12.50 TBD

If this schedule worries you, we’ve got some good news: Beginning in 2019, the state’s Department of Budget (DOB) Director will run an annual analysis of the economy in each region — looking at the impact of the minimum wage increases statewide — to determine whether a temporary suspension of the scheduled increases is necessary.

What’s the plan for paid family leave?

Under Governor Cuomo’s plan, New York employers will be required to provide 12 weeks of paid family leave benefits to eligible employees (i.e., full-time and part-time employees who have worked at a company for six months).

Just like the minimum wage, the paid leave benefits will also be phased in. At the beginning of 2018, employees will be eligible for eight weeks of leave. Then by 2021, employees will be eligible for the full 12 weeks.

Stressed about how much this new paid family leave law will cost your business? Don’t be. The new family leave program will be funded entirely via a nominal employee payroll deduction, resulting in zero cost to businesses.

How should small business owners prepare for minimum wage and paid leave increases?

Every business is different, so there isn’t one right way to prepare. Here are a few options you may want to consider:

  • Audit your expenses: Check your cash flow in detail and create a hiring plan that you can afford. In some cases, you may find that hiring temporary workers as needed is less expensive than taking on full-time regular staff.
  • Make sure you hire and keep the right employees: Replacing an employee costs a lot. You decrease the total cost associated with recruiting and training when you hire (and then retain) the right people. Look for candidates with good track records, who come recommended, and who fit in with the company culture. Once they’re onboarded, make sure you build a relationship and provide paths for growth; it makes it more likely that they will stay in their role.
  • Increase prices: This is a great way to increase cash flow. Customers are rarely happy with a price hike, but keep in mind that your competitors will be forced to do the same. Just make sure you keep track of trends, and don’t raise prices too high.
  • Update tech: Consider automating certain aspects of the work (like payroll), and find ways to reduce production costs.

As always, to make sure your business is prepared and stays in compliance, we recommend that you discuss these upcoming changes to the minimum wage and paid family leave laws with your accountant and lawyer.

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