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2019 brings changes for New York's minimum wage and paid family leave

Dec 31, 2018

Credit freeimages.com/John Hughes

Local attorneys are helping their clients get ready for new employment and business regulations taking effect in 2019. 

As of today, December 31, the minimum wage for workers in most of upstate New York goes up 70 cents to $11.10 an hour.

Jeff Calabrese is a Rochester attorney specializing in labor and employment law for Harter Secrest & Emery. He says small businesses are most likely to feel the impact of those higher wages.

"I think that employers view their employees as the most important asset to their business and I think a lot of them struggle with the fact that the cost increases," said Calabrese, "but they think it is a good thing for workers to be paid more for what they do."

Advocates for low wage workers, such as Metro Justice, say New York State’s phased-in increases are too little, too late for workers in Rochester with its high poverty rate. On December 31, 2020, the current round of scheduled increases will push the minimum wage to $12.50 for communities outside of New York City, Westchester County, and Long Island.

2019 will also bring changes in the salary threshold for overtime pay for administrative and executive employees.

Paid Family Leave

Changes are also coming for New York's paid family leave regulations.

Starting January 1, eligible employees can take more time off work to bond with a new child, care for a sick family member, or help loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service.

The maximum time off is increasing from 8 weeks to 10, and workers will be paid 55 percent of the current average weekly wage, up from the current 50 percent.

Calabrese says the paid family leave program did not have as serious an impact on employers when it was implemented in 2018 as many thought it would.

"For the most part, the clients that I have spoken with, it all seemed to roll out smoothly," he said, "and everyone has accepted it as a good benefit for employees and something that they're able to accommodate when the employee needs it."