Many New Yorkers started the year with a pay raise | Katz Melinger PLLC
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Many New Yorkers started the year with a pay raise

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Minimum-wage workers in New York are ringing in the New Year with a significant boost to their paychecks. The increase, which took effect December 31, 2018, moves hourly pay closer to the $15 an hour that fast-food workers and other low-wage employees have been advocating for since 2012.

Pay raise breakdown

New hourly rates vary depending on where you work. For instance, New York City businesses with more than 10 employees must pay their workers the long-awaited $15 an hour. Smaller companies must raise pay from $12 to $13.50 an hour. By the end of 2019, they'll be required to increase compensation rates to $15, too. In Long Island and Westchester, minimum-wage workers will see their hourly rate climb from $11 to $12. Then, they'll receive a $1 raise each year for the next three years until their paychecks reflect the promised $15 per hour. Elsewhere in the state, workers will see their hourly compensation go up to $11.10, with a 70-cent raise each year for the next two years.

What the increase means for tipped workers

Employers will be able to apply some of their employees' tips toward the minimum wage, based on a formula that varies by industry. Tipped workers are also entitled to time-and-a-half compensation for overtime.

What to do if your employer doesn't comply

Employees who are still being paid less than minimum wage are encouraged to learn more about their rights. According to the Economic Policy Institute, New York ranks near the top in terms of wage violations, coming in third among the ten most heavily-populated states. Nearly one-quarter of workers in New York suspect that they're being paid less than the legal minimum wage, with immigrants and tipped workers especially likely to be victims. If you're not sure whether you're being paid the legal wage, you can use this look-up tool to see if your employer is complying.

Besides New York, 22 other states and the District of Columbia are increasing their minimum wages, either because of cost-of-living adjustments or new policies on the books. According to the National Employment Law Center, that translates to raises for up to 22 million workers nationwide. As New York leads the way in pushing for equitable pay, other states, cities and counties are looking for ways to increase compensation and benefits for their lowest-paid employees, too.

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