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Employment Law Watch

NYC Amends Living Wage Law, Increases Minimum Wage for Thousands

This post was written by Cindy S. Minniti and Mark S. Goldstein.

On September 30, 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order (the Order) raising the “living wage” for New York City workers employed by certain employers that contract directly with the city or are tenants in city-subsidized buildings. The Order expands a law that was passed in 2012 over the veto of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. That law had raised the minimum wage for workers employed by entities that receive subsidies directly from the city.

Mayor de Blasio’s Order extends the 2012 law’s protections to workers employed by commercial tenants in buildings and other projects that receive more than $1 million in city subsidies. Specifically, the Order raises the minimum hourly wage to $11.50 for businesses in city-subsidized buildings that offer health care benefits to employees, and to $13.13 for similar businesses that do not offer health care. The increase also applies to workers that were already covered by the 2012 law (i.e., those employed by entities that receive subsidies directly from the city). These wage floors are expected to increase over the next five years. Among other questions left unanswered by Mayor de Blasio, the Order does not address what impact it will have on tip credits authorized by the state labor law.

According to the de Blasio administration, the Order could impact up to 18,000 city workers over the next five years (although this figure has been disputed). The Order takes effect immediately but does not apply to city-subsidized projects awarded prior to September 30, 2014. The Order will be enforced by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, which has also been tasked with overseeing the city’s new paid sick leave law.

What Does This Mean for My Company?

Mayor de Blasio’s September 30 executive Order is another example of his progressive agenda. NYC employers should consult with counsel now to ensure compliance with the revitalized living wage law, and to discuss how to brace for future initiatives that may be coming down the pike under the de Blasio administration.

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