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Is the $15 minimum wage heading to New York?


Following a deal last week between California state Governor, Jerry Brown, legislators and labor leaders, it appears likely that a bill will pass raising minimum wage incomes across the state of California to $15 per hour by the year 2022. Although, this has yet to occur anywhere in the United States on a statewide level, it is not without precedence. Several cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle, have already adopted the $15 minimum per hour wage for employees. Here in New York, similar legislation is being discussed in Albany.

With some of the highest costs of living in the United States, many workers in New York City often find it difficult or impossible to earn a "livable wage." To combat this, in January, New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, proposed legislation for a $15 per hour minimum for New York City by the end of the year in 2018, with a statewide minimum by July of 2021. Both proposals were expected to be on the state budget due on April 1.

This is a very complicated issue for legislators, employers and employees. Currently, New York state minimum wage is set at $9 per hour. However, there are various exemptions, both in the city and throughout the state, such as fast food industry workers earning a minimum of $10.50 per hour in New York City and $9.75 throughout the rest of the state. Other exemptions include farm workers and child performers, which all have separate regulations.

It is vitally important for all workers to understand their rights and to address any wage-and-hour disputes with their employer immediately. If an agreement or understanding cannot be made, it may be wise to seek the advice and aid from a firm familiar with employment law.

Source: The New York Times, "Exemptions May Color Deal to Lift New York State's Minimum Wage," Jesse McKinley, March 25, 2016

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