Is it any wonder why it’s so difficult to stay in business in New York? In exchange for eliminating one onerous compliance requirement with regard to wages, a new law simultaneously created more liability and penalties for businesses to actually stay in compliance with wage and labor law.
First, the positive. The new law terminates the yearly requirement for New York employers to provide annual wage notices to their employees each January. This burdensome paperwork is no longer a mandatory filing for all current employees; new employees, however, will still be expected to receive their notice.
The relaxation on the notice requirement, however, is in appearance only. The law sharply increases associated penalties for failing to provide the requisite wage notices to applicable employees. The penalty jump from a mere $50/week to $50 per day per employee and doubles the cap from $2500 to $5000. What’s more, for businesses failing to provide sufficient wage statements per law (different from wage notices), businesses will be docked $250/day, up from $100/per week, with the cap on that penalty also doubling to $5000 per employee.
The Department of Labor (DOL) certainly can’t be left out of their cut either. The new law allows the DOL to issue excessive civil penalties for wage and hour violations — doubling the amount from $10,000 to $20,000. The penalty increases help fund a new honey pot for the DOL called the “Wage Theft Prevention Enforcement Account”, created to help the DOL examine a full 6 years worth of time prior to the alleged violation.
However, the most egregious portion of the new law is the concept of ‘successor liability”, which essentially allows the possibility of a business being held liable for the wage of hour violations of its business predecessor. The law describes a business successor to be the “same employee” under these conditions: “if the employees of the new employer are engaged in substantially the same work in substantially the same working conditions under substantially the same supervisors” of the previous employer and has “substantially the same production process, produces substantially the same products and has substantially the same body of customers.” Thus, a business faces being penalized for violations committed by a prior business entity.
Finally, the law extends the scope of culpability for wage and hour violations. Previously, the top ten shareholders of corporations faced liability; now the top ten members of ownership (percentage-wise) in an LLC can also be found in violation.
In sum, while the new law reduced one burdensome regulation for business owners, it was replaced with more stringent rules of compliance, coupled with stiffer penalties to be meted out to violators of wage and labor laws. The increased threat of non-compliance and fines is just another example of the suffocating, anti-business environment that plagues New York.
For more details on the law and its affects, go here.