New York Provides Paid Family Leave, Sets Course for $15 Minimum Wage

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

April 6, 2016

New York's governor on April 4 signed into law legislation that will establish new paid family leave requirements and increase the minimum wage to $15.00.

The new law, which provides 12 weeks of paid family leave, gives New York the "strongest paid family leave policy in the nation," Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The law also will give employees in New York City and its surrounding counties the highest minimum wage in the nation.

Paid Family Leave

Starting January 1, 2018, covered employees will be eligible to take job-protected paid leave to:

  • Provide care for a family member with a serious health condition;
  • Bond with a child during the first 12 months after the child's birth or placement for adoption or foster care; or
  • Address a federal Family and Medical Leave Act qualifying exigency relating to the military service of an employee's family member.

The weekly benefit will be based on a percentage of the employee's average weekly wage, but may not exceed the same percentage of the average weekly wage for all workers in New York. The length of leave and the amount of benefits will increase gradually according to the following schedule:

  • Starting in 2018, eight weeks of leave per any 52-week period at 50% of the weekly wage;
  • Starting in 2019, 10 weeks of leave per any 52-week period at 55% of the weekly wage;
  • Starting in 2020, 10 weeks of leave per any 52-week period at 60% of the weekly wage; and
  • Starting in 2021, 12 weeks of leave per any 52-week period at 67% of the weekly wage.

The paid family leave program will be funded through employee payroll deductions, so there will be no direct costs to employers.

Minimum Wage

Like Oregon's recently passed minimum wage law, New York's minimum wage law will set a different wage for different regions of the state when it takes effect at the end of this year (see schedule below).

Michael O. Paglialonga, an attorney with the New York State Department of Labor, told XpertHR that the minimum wage law does not supersede the order establishing a separate minimum wage for fast food employees issued last year by the state's labor commissioner, even though the law repealed the section of the labor code that authorized the order. However, Paglialonga stressed that his statement did not represent a legal opinion.

As a result, it appears that New York will have a patchwork of six separate minimum wages that varies depending on an employer's location, size and industry.

The law also will increase the minimum cash wage for tipped employees from the current $7.50 to two-thirds of the minimum wage rates described below rounded to the nearest 5 cents or to $7.50, whichever is higher. (Effectively, the minimum cash wage for tipped employees will not increase until December 31, 2017, because two-thirds of the minimum wage rates that take effect December 31, 2016, is still less than $7.50.)

The governor's office estimates that more than 2.3 million people will be affected by the increases in the minimum wage.

Date New York City - 11 or more employees New York City - 10 or fewer employees Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties Remainder of New York
Current $9.00
December 31, 2016 $11.00 $10.50 $10.00 $9.70
December 31, 2017 $13.00 $12.00 $11.00 $10.40
December 31, 2018 $15.00 $13.50 $12.00 $11.10
December 31, 2019 $15.00 $13.00 $11.80
December 31, 2020 $14.00 $12.50
December 31, 2021 (and every December 31 thereafter) $15.00 Increased on an indexed schedule until it reaches $15.00