Calling the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act’s annual notice requirement a waste of millions of dollars - and 51 million pieces of paper! – New York State Senators yesterday voted to repeal the Act’s annual notice requirement. This narrower repeal, which is limited to the notice provision (and not the other provisions of the Wage Theft Act) and was sponsored by Republican Sen. John DeFrancisco, replaces earlier proposals to repeal the Act in its entirety. The proposal must now be approved by the state Assembly before it can be considered by the Governor. Watch this space for further developments.
New York’s landmark Wage Theft Prevention Act, which was recently modified and adopted in California, requires employers to issue to all New York employees an annual notice complying with the requirements of New York Labor Law § 195 (as amended by the Act). While the statute was effective in April 2011, the annual notice requirement, which is in addition to the statute’s mandatory new hire notice and other requirements, is applicable for the first time in 2012. The notice must be provided prior to February 1, 2012, and the notice obligations are summarized here. Notice can be provided electronically as long as certain requirements are met.
While there is no mandatory form of notice, the New York State Department of Labor has provided sample forms. In addition to English, the NYSDOL has provided these forms in other languages, consistent with the requirement that the notice be provided in English and also in the employee’s “primary language.”
Large employers, and employers with a large virtual or remote segment in their workforce, are already wrestling with how to assemble a compliant notice program under the Act. The absence of clear guidance regarding certain provisions and requirements makes compliance more difficult. However, compliance is paramount, as failure to provide the annual notice constitutes a violation of Section 198(1-b), which, under the Wage Theft Act, can carry with it a penalty of “fifty dollars for each work week that the violations occurred or continue to occur”, among other potential remedies.