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How can workers and employers avoid wage and hour disputes?

Employment disputes can be normal occurrences in a dynamic work area. However, they do not have to escalate into litigation. Wage-and-hour disputes are often the center of misunderstandings. However, if New York employers and employees are aware of their specific rights and responsibilities, the possibility of clashes regarding wages and other employment benefits can be significantly reduced.

What should employees know about the minimum wage and overtime pay? In New York, the minimum wage is $8.75 per hour. This figure usually increases every year and is set to increase on December 31, 2015 to $9 per hour. Tips are not and should not be considered as part of the minimum wage. On the other hand, employees are entitled to overtime pay if the services they render exceed 40 hours in a work week. A previous blogpost illustrates the nuances of overtime.

Are employers required to give workers a day off? Yes. According to the state's labor laws, employers are required to give their workers at least one day or 24 hours of consecutive rest. Hotel and factory employees, restaurant workers and most employees are covered by this policy. How about meals and breaks? While giving a free meal is an employer's prerogative, break time is required by law. Employees are given 30 minutes for lunch, to be taken during the hours of 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The time of the break can be adjusted according to the shift that the employee is working.

To further avoid employment dispute-related litigation, New York employers are advised to have a qualified employment law professional review their policies and practices. This assures that any policies that are contrary to existing labor laws can be adjusted to prevent further complications. Employment contracts, as well as hiring and training policies, should also be constantly verified and updated to suit any changes made in the state and federal laws.

Source: Employment Law Handbook, "New York Labor Laws - Wage and Hour," accessed Jan. 14, 2015

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