Small Business Tips

All you need to know about New York's minimum wage

Stephen Fishman
Tax expert and contributor MileIQ

New York state has more than one minimum wage. Moreover, the state minimum wage has gone up over the last several years. It will eventually reach $15 throughout the state.

Which minimum wage applies depends where an employee works. Also, there are special lower minimum wages for some occupations.

New York City minimum wage

New York City has a higher minimum wage than the rest of the state. The broad expanse of the city includes the Bronx, Queens, Richmond, Kings and New York counties.

For big employers (those with 11 employees or more), the minimum wage is $15.00 per hour.

For small employers ( those with 10 or fewer employees), the minimum wage will increase from $13.50 to $15.00 per hour on December 31, 2019.

Long Island and Westchester minimum wage

The minimum wage in Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk counties) and Westchester County will increase over the coming years:

  • $12 in 2019
  • $13 in 2020
  • $14 in 2021
  • $15 in 2022

Rest of New York state minimum wage

The minimum wage is lower in the rest of the state. It is $11.10 for 2019, $11.80 for 2020, and $12.50 for 2021. After 2021 it will go up based on inflation until it reaches $15.

New York Minimum Wage Rate Schedule

Location2019202020212022New York City (11 or more employees)$15$15$15$15New York City (10 or less employees)$13.50$15$15$15Long Island and Westchester$12$13$14$15Rest of New York state$11.10$11.80$12.50?

Minimum wage for tipped workers

The minimum wage works differently for workers who receive tips from customers. This category includes waiters and waitresses.

Employers can satisfy the minimum wage by combining a “cash wage” paid by the employer with a credit or allowance for tips that the employee receives from customers.

For example, the minimum wage for food service workers who work for large employers in New York City is $15.00 per hour. Their employers can satisfy the minimum wage by combining a cash wage of at least $10.00 with a tip allowance of no more than $5.00 per hour.

The tip allowance amount and cash wage employers must pay varies according to the size of the business and its location. See the New York Department of Labor’s online guide “Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers.”

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Minimum wage for fast-food workers

Special minimum wage rates apply to fast-food workers who work for a chain with 30 or more establishments.

In New York City, the minimum wage for fast-food workers if $15 per hour.

Outside New York City, the fast-food minimum wage is $12.75 per hour in 2019, $13.75 in 2020, $14.50 in 2021, and $15 in 2022.

Minimum wage for New York City app-based drivers

Starting in 2019, New York City established a special minimum wage for app-based drivers. These include drivers for Uber, Lyft, Via, and Juno.

The minimum wage for such drivers is $17.22 per hour after expenses ($26.51 per hour gross pay).

Workers not covered by minimum wage law

New York’s minimum wage law applies to most types of employees. But some employees are not covered. These include:

  • Executives and administrators earning more than 75 times the minimum wage rate
  • Professionals
  • Outside salespersons
  • Taxicab drivers
  • Government employees (but certain non-teaching employees are subject to the minimum wage)
  • Part-time babysitters
  • Ministers and members of religious orders
  • Volunteers, learners, apprentices and students working in non-profits, and
  • Students obtaining vocational experience

In addition, the minimum wage applies only to workers who hiring firms classify as employees. Independent contractors are not covered.

Employees don’t have to get paid an hourly wage

There is no legal requirement that employers pay employees an hourly wage. For example, they can get paid on commission or for piecework basis. But such employees must earn the applicable minimum wage rate for every hour worked.

If an employee’s commissions or other compensation does equal or exceed the amount computed as the minimum wage for the pay period, the employer must make up the difference on the same payday.

Enforcement of minimum wage laws

The New York Department of Labor (www.labor.ny.gov) enforces New York’s minimum wage laws. It collects underpayments for workers who have not received the minimum wage.

Often, the Department of labor collects the funds without resorting to court action. However, an employer who violates the Minimum Wage Law is subject to criminal prosecution and penalties. Action may also be taken in civil court.

The Commissioner of Labor may require an employer to pay:

  • Minimum wage underpayments and liquidated damages PLUS
  • Interest and civil penalties up to 200% of the unpaid wages.

Other things to know about minimum wage

How much employers pay their employees is always a matter of negotiation. There is no upper legal limit on wages. But there is a legally mandated lower limit. This term for this lowest permissible wage is the “minimum wage.” Most employees can get paid less than the applicable minimum wage.

There is more than one minimum wage in the United States. There is a federal minimum wage set by the United States Congress. This minimum wage is currently only $7.25 per hour. But, in most states, the federal minimum wage does not apply.

Twenty-nine states have established minimum wages that are higher than the federal minimum. When a state’s minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum, that state’s employees must get paid at least the state minimum. One of these states is New York state.

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