On December 13, 2010, New York State Governor David A. Paterson signed the Wage Theft Prevention Act ("WTPA") into law. The WTPA is intended to help protect employees working in New York against violations of their wage and hour law rights.
The WTPA requires employers to provide information to employees about how they are being paid. For example, employers must notify employees, in writing, of:
- Their rate and basis for their pay, such as whether they are paid by the hour, shift, day, week, salary, piece, commission, or otherwise;
- Any allowances the employer claims as part of the employee's minimum wage, such as tip, meal, or lodging allowances; and
- Their overtime rate, number of regular hours worked, and number of overtime hours worked for employees who are not exempt from overtime.
Employers must provide this information to employees when they are hired, and no later than February of each year thereafter. The information must be in English and the employee's primary language other than English when applicable. Employers also are required to have employees sign and date an acknowledgment confirming they received this information each time they provide it to them.
In addition, the WTPA requires New York State employers to (1) notify employees in writing about changes to their rate and basis of pay, allowances for overtime, or overtime rate; (2) provide that information with each paycheck or other payment of wages; and (3) keep contemporaneous, true, and accurate payroll records containing all of that information for at least 6 years. It also expands the antiretaliation provisions of New York's wage and hour laws. For example, employers cannot retaliate against employees who object in good faith about activities that they reasonably believe violate the WPTA.
In a press release about the WTPA, Governor Paterson said he is "proud to sign this legislation, which will combat misconduct by unscrupulous employers who fail to pay statutorily-mandated minimum wages and overtime." Similarly, the policy co-director for the National Employment Law Project, Annette Bernhardt, recognized that:
By enacting this critical legislation, New York joins a growing number of states nationwide . . . that are ramping up the fight against wage theft. By stiffening the penalties, protecting workers who come forward, and ensuring that unpaid wages are collected, the new law provides the tools we need to ensure justice for the hundreds of thousands of workers in New York who are impacted each year.
The WTPA will go into effect on April 12, 2011.