Guide to New York employee benefits and HR rules
If you’re an HR professional or business owner with employees in New York, you need to know which employee benefits and rights are required in the Empire State.
Want to offer personalized benefits that help you satisfy New York benefits laws and keep your employees happy and engaged? Get in touch with a personalized benefits advisor.
Are you compliant with New York state’s employment laws?
If your small or medium size business is based in New York, or if you employ any New York-based workers, you need to know the basics of benefits and HR compliance in the state. This guide will provide a general overview of New York’s regulations for domestic workers and organizations.
Topics covered in this guide include:
What are your employees' rights in the state of New York?
While there are many federal laws for workers' rights, every state is responsible for establishing its own laws and regulations for additional protections for eligible employees in the state. If you plan to hire employees in the Empire State or already have workers in New York, you must comply with the following rights.
New York workers have the right to:
- Private-sector whistleblower protections and immunity from retaliation
- Employers can’t take retaliatory action against an employee for reporting labor law violations. This includes being fired, cutting hours, rescheduling, reassignment, pay cuts, or other disciplinary or adverse employment actions.
- Complain about possible violations of labor law to their employer
- File a complaint to the New York Labor Department
- Fair wages
- A safe workplace
- Workers may report safety concerns and safety hazards to the state
- Protection from discrimination
- In addition prohibitions set by federal law, New York prohibits workplace discrimination based on age (18 or older), race, creed, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sex, national origin, immigration status, citizenship status, status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual orientation, genetic characteristics, martial status, familial status, pregnancy, mental or physical disability, military status, reproductive health decisions, and prior arrest or criminal conviction records
- Know their wage rate
- Employees must sign a Notice and Acknowledgement of Wage Rate
- Know your organization’s harassment policy and procedures for reporting harassment in the workplace
- This includes contractors, vendors, consultants, and other non-employees who provide services to your organization
- Take leave to vote
- Employees may take up to two hours of paid time off separate from their other PTO if they don’t have four consecutive hours to vote from the opening of the polls to the beginning of their shift or the end of their shift and the closing of polls
- Have a day of rest
- Workers in certain industries are required to have a full day of rest each week
- Timely change in work schedule
- For retail and fast-food employees, employers must give 72 hours and 14 days notice respectively of a new work schedule
- Failure to comply with the law can result in owing premiums to your employees
- Timely payment of wages
- Manual workers must be paid once each week
- Commission salespeople must be paid at least once each month
- All other workers must be paid at least twice each month
- Workers can contact the state to report unpaid wages
- Unpaid meal breaks
- Factory workers are entitled to a 60-minute unpaid break between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. or midway through shifts that start between 1 p.m. and 6 a.m.
- All other workers are entitled to a 30-minute break for shifts that are at least six hours
- Workers must be provided an additional 20-minute meal break between 5 and 7 p.m. if their workday extends from before 11 a.m. to after 7 p.m.
What are employers required to provide their employees in New York?
New York requires employers to offer eligible employees certain benefits and accommodations. We’ve broken up these requirements in the sections below.
Required employee benefits
There are many benefits required to be provided to employees under New York labor law.
Required benefits include:
- Employer-sponsored unemployment insurance
- Workers’ compensation insurance
- Disability insurance
- Paid sick leave
- Employers with 100 or more workers must provide at least 56 hours of paid sick leave each year
- Employers with five to 99 employees must provide at least 40 hours of paid sick time per year
- Employers with fewer than five workers must provide at least 40 hours of unpaid sick time each year if their organization earns more than $1 million in net income each year
- New York State Paid Family Leave Law
- Employees can take PTO to bond with newborn, adopted, or foster children, care for family members with serious health conditions and assist their family when a spouse, partner, child, or parent is deployed
- Most employers are required to register and obtain coverage for their employees
- Must be offered to most full-time and part-time employees who work 20 or more hours per week, with certain exceptions
If you have at least ten workers and don’t enroll your employees in a retirement plan, you must enroll them in the New York State Secure Choice Savings Program. This is an automatic payroll deduction IRA. The law was enacted in 2018 and took effect on December 31, 2021. Enrollment deadlines have not yet been determined.
Wage laws in New York
Wages in New York are subject to state laws, which provide additional protections over federal regulations.
State minimum wage laws
New York has a state minimum wage that exceeds the federal minimum wage.
|Date in effect||Minimum wage||Tipped employees||Tipped food service workers|
|December 31, 2021||$13.20/hour||$11/hour (must receive at least $2.20 in tip credits per hour)||$8.80/hour (must receive at least $4.40 in tip credits per hour)|
The state minimum wage rates will increase each year until it tops out at $15/hour ($10/hour for tipped workers). The annual increase is announced yearly by the Commissioner of Labor by October 1.
Additionally, fast food workers and hospitality workers must earn $15/hour.
You must pay at least $990 per week for executive and administrative salary-based workers.
Local minimum wages
In addition to the state minimum wage, some cities and counties have their own wage laws. Salaried workers in these places must earn at least $1,125 per week.
|Place||Minimum wage||Tipped employees||Tipped food service workers|
|New York City||$15/hour||$12.50/hour (must receive at least $2.50 in tip credits per hour)||$10/hour (must receive at least $5 in tip credits per hour)|
|Long Island & Westchester||$15/hour||$12.50/hour (must receive at least $2.50 in tip credits per hour)||$10/hour (must receive at least $5 in tip credits per hour)|
Overtime pay is required for all eligible employees who work more than 40 hours in a week. You must pay these workers 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for those hours worked in excess of 40.
New York City-specific employment laws
As the largest city in the U.S., New York City has more people living and working in it than many states. As such, it has additional employment laws that you’ll need to be aware of.
These additional laws include:
- New York City Human Rights Law
- Prohibits discrimination and harassment
- New York City Earned Safe and Stick Time Act (ESSTA)
- If you have employees who work more than 80 hours per year in NYC, they are entitled to one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked
- This caps at 40 hours of paid sick leave each year
- COVID-19 vaccination leave
- You must provide workers up to four hours of paid leave if they want to receive a COVID-19 vaccination or booster through December 2022
Additional HR laws in New York state
There are other HR rules and requirements for employers you’ll need to know about, ranging from hiring practices to special accommodations for workers.
Fair employment and hiring practices
The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits discriminatory practices against workers, job applicants, and interns for protected classes. It also allows workers to bring sexual harassment claims against any organization.
You may not discriminate against employees who are state-certified medical marijuana patients, as this is considered a disability under New York’s Compassionate Care Act.
The law also requires organizations to accommodate pregnant workers when pregnancy inhibits normal bodily functions.
Under state law, you must provide equal pay to employees regardless of their protected class when their work is similar with the same responsibility and working conditions.
You may still differ wages based on seniority, merit, or quantity or quality of production.
Criminal background checks
In New York, you may not refuse to hire a suitable job candidate based on a prior criminal conviction unless the offense is directly related to the position and the applicant could pose an unreasonable risk.
You may not request applicants' or workers’ wage history as conditions of employment or promotion. Applicants can voluntarily disclose their salary history, but it can’t be a condition of the interview.
Health insurance in New York
Offering health benefits to your workers is a great way to attract and retain top talent.
While traditional group health insurance is a popular option, rising premium costs have made it challenging for small to medium size businesses to offer the benefit.
There are some alternatives for small business owners who can't offer group coverage due to minimum contribution or minimum participation requirements or who can't afford to pay for the high price of New York insurance premiums.
Health reimbursement arrangement (HRA)
A health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) is an IRS-approved, employer-funded health benefit that allows you to reimburse your employees, tax-free, for their individual health insurance premiums and qualifying medical expenses.
With an HRA, you have complete control over your benefit while giving your employees more freedom to choose how they want to use their benefit.
Learn more about each HRA
For employers with 1-49 employees
A simple, controlled-cost alternative to group health insurance.
For employers of all sizes
A flexible health benefit that can be used alone or alongside group health insurance.
A health stipend is a fixed sum of money offered to your employees to help pay for their healthcare expenses. A health employee stipend isn't a formal group health plan, so you have complete control over which expenses are eligible for reimbursement.
This makes a health stipend an excellent option for small businesses looking to offer a health benefit that covers costs health insurance or HRAs may not cover, such as mental health expenses.
Learn the differences between a health stipend and a health reimbursement arrangement
Frequently asked questions
How many hours can an employer make you work in NYS?
There’s no rule on how many hours a worker can work consecutively in New York state. However, your employer may be required to provide meal breaks and overtime pay.
Do I have to offer health insurance in New York?
No, however, the federal government requires organizations with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees to provide health insurance that meets minimum essential coverage (MEC).
Looking to enhance your benefits package?
Speak with a PeopleKeep personalized benefits advisor who can help you answer questions, and help you select the right benefits package for your team.