New York launches tools to enforce new minimum wage

By Bill Heltzel

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New York has created several tools for implementing the state’s six-year plan to increase the minimum wage to $15.

The first phase of the plan began on Dec. 31, when the minimum wage increased from $9 an hour to $10 in Westchester County and $9.70 in the rest of the Hudson Valley.

On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced programs that are meant to make the wage plan work.

A 200-member, multiagency minimum wage enforcement and outreach unit will police the wage market. It will be staffed by the Workers Compensation Board and the departments of Labor, Taxation and State.

The enforcement unit will respond to complaints from workers, conduct investigations and audit entire employer workforces.

Employers who do not pay the proper wage can be required to pay back wages, civil penalties and a $3 fine for every hour they underpay.

The unit will also offer training for business and labor organizations.

A web tool at NY.gov/MyWage will help workers determine how much they should be paid, based on the location and type of work.

Workers can register complaints on a hotline at 1-888-469-7365.

Cuomo also announced a public awareness campaign to run in English and Spanish on television stations across the state.

The Legislature created different minimums – from one statewide standard – for six regions. Depending on where you work, the wage now varies from $9.70 to $12, and fast food workers get from $10.75 to $12 an hour.

The minimum in Westchester will increase $1 a year until it reaches $15 at the end of 2021, for a 67 percent increase.

The state estimates that 2 million people earn below $15 an hour, including 261,452 in the Hudson Valley.

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About the author

Bill Heltzel
Bill Heltzel has covered criminal justice, courts, government and sports – as a beat reporter and investigative reporter – for daily newspapers in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He worked for Bloomberg LP in training and sales. He joined The Business Journal in 2016.

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