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New York Employers Must Issue First Annual Wage Theft Prevention Act Notice in January 2012

Date: 12.8.2011

New York’s landmark Wage Theft Prevention Act requires employers to issue to all New York employees an annual notice complying with the requirements of New York Labor Law § 195 (as amended by the Act).  The statute became effective in April 2011 and the first annual notice must be provided prior to February 1, 2012.  The notice obligations are discussed in our article, New York Wage Theft Prevention Act Update: State DOL Issues Model Forms and Guidance.  Notice can be provided electronically as long as certain requirements are met.

While the law does not dictate the form of notice, the New York State Department of Labor has provided sample forms.  In addition to English, the NYSDOL has provided sample forms in other languages, consistent with the requirement that the notice be provided in English and in the employee’s “primary language.”  Failure to provide the annual notice constitutes a violation the Wage Theft Act (Section 198(1-b)) and can carry a penalty of “fifty dollars for each work week that the violations occurred or continue to occur,” among other potential remedies.

Large employers, and employers with a large virtual or remote segment in their workforce, have been wrestling with creating a compliant notice program under the Act.  The absence of clear guidance regarding certain provisions and requirements makes this task more difficult.

And for employers who also have operations in California, the state has adopted a law nearly identical to New York’s.  The California Wage Theft Prevention Act, effective January 1, 2012, increases the penalties available under existing provisions of the California Labor Code, and adds a detailed notice requirement to employees, echoing the requirements imposed on New York employers by N.Y. Labor Law § 195.  For more information on the California Wage Theft Prevention Act, see California Enacts Eerily Familiar "Wage Theft Prevention Act".

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist employers with their compliance efforts.

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