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Department of Labor

Wages and Hours: Frequently Asked Questions

From 12/31/2019 to 12/30/2020, the basic minimum wage is $11.80 per hour in most of New York State. There are different minimum wage rates for: the fast food industry; Long Island; Westchester County; and New York City. If you have questions, please review our minimum wage information page. If you need additional assistance or want to file a complaint, please call: 1-888-4-NYSDOL (1-888-469-7365).

Q: What are the regulations for the employment of child performers in New York State?

A: You can find the regulations for employing child performers in New York State in the Legal section of the DOL website via this link.


Q: What is the current Minimum Wage in New York State?

A: For details on the Minimum Wage rates, please see our Minimum Wage page


Q: Can employers require their employees to wear uniforms?

A: Yes. However, the cost of buying and/or taking care of a uniform must not bring the employee below the minimum wage.



Workers at the minimum wage rate must wear a uniform

Their employers must clean and take care of the uniforms


Pay the employees to do so

Ordinary clothing (such as black trousers and white shirts) is generally not a "uniform."


Q: Do the minimum wage requirements cover everyone?

A: Most people are covered by the minimum wage requirements. However, some people are not. Those who are not covered include:

  • Executives and administrators earning more than 75 times the minimum wage rate
  • Professionals
  • Outside salespersons
  • Taxicab drivers
  • Government employees (However, certain non-teaching employees are covered)
  • Part-time babysitters
  • Ministers and members of religious orders
  • Volunteers, learners, apprentices and students working in non-profit institutions
  • Students obtaining vocational experience
For more detailed information on some of the exclusions in the above list, please see our
Non-Profitmaking Institutions, Public Agencies, and Children's Camps FAQs.

The Labor Law does not consider independent contractors - people who are in business for themselves - as "employees." This means that minimum wage requirements do not cover independent contractors.

These are the major exclusions. For a more complete listing, see the NYS Labor Law, Article 19, Section 651.


Q: Where can I find the required posters that summarize the minimum wage rules?

A: Article 19 of the Labor Law requires employers to post the provisions of the Minimum Wage Act. This poster is available at:


Q: What are the rules for overtime?

A: The overtime requirement is based on hours worked in a given week. In general, if you have worked more than 40 hours in a pay week, and are not "exempt", you must be paid an overtime rate for all hours over 40.  If you are a farm worker, you must be paid an overtime rate for all hours worked over 60 in a calendar week, and/or for any hours worked on your day of rest.  See the chart below:


Overtime Rate

Covered employees

One and one-half times their regular, "straight-time" hourly rate of pay for all hours over 40 in a payroll week

Residential employees ("live-in" workers)

One and one-half times their regular, "straight-time" hourly rate of pay for all hours over 44 in a payroll week

Farm employees One and one-half times their regular, "straight-time" hourly rate of pay for all hours over 60 in a calendar week and/or for any hours worked on day of rest 




Federal law excludes some types of employees from the requirement to receive one and one-half times their regular rate of pay. Many people call these "exempt" positions. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), listed by the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, outlines occupations excluded by federal law. You can find the act at:

New York State follows these exclusions. However, the State still requires that most workers receive at least one and one-half times the minimum rate for their overtime hours in businesses covered by the Miscellaneous Wage Order.


Q: Where can I find details about the state laws for employing minors?

A: For information on "Child Labor" go to:


Q: How many hours can an employer ask an employee to work?

A: There are no limits on:

  • The number of work hours per day (except for children under 18)
  • How early in the morning an adult employee may work
  • How late in the day an adult employee may work
In some industries and occupations, an employee must receive 24 hours of rest in each calendar week. Such jobs include work:

  • In factories
  • In mercantile establishments
  • In hotels (except resort/seasonal hotels)
  • In restaurants (except small, rural restaurants)
  • As an elevator operator
  • As a watchman
  • As a janitor
  • As a superintendent
  • As a farm worker
For a complete list of the "day of rest" provision of the law, go to:


Q: Must an employer give meal periods and "breaks" to workers?

A: Employees who:

  •  Work a shift of more than six hours starting before 11 AM

  •  Continue until 2 PM

  •  Have an uninterrupted lunch period of

  •  Half an hour between 11 AM and 2 PM
For meal period requirements, go to:

Meal periods do not count as work time, thus employers need not pay for that time.
Employers do not have to provide other "breaks", such as for "rest periods" or "coffee breaks." But, if an employer permits a break (of up to 20 minutes), then they should pay it as work time.


Q: Must an employer pay workers for holidays, sick time and/or vacations?

A: Under the New York State Labor Law, payment for time not actually worked is not required unless the employer has established a policy to grant such pay. Holidays, sick time and/or vacations fall under 'time not worked.' When an employer does decide to create a benefit policy, that employer is free to impose any conditions they choose.

Fringe benefits may include:

  •   Reimbursement of expenses or tuition
  •   Health coverage
  •   Payment for      - Sick time       - Vacation       - Personal leave       - Holidays


Q: What is the status of an employer's oral agreement to provide a particular fringe benefit?

A: Section 195.5 of the Labor Law states: Every employer shall notify his employees in writing or by publicly posting the employer's policy on sick leave, vacation, personal leave, holidays and hours.

If an employer does not have a written policy, the oral policy (or past practice) may be enforced - if the terms of the policy can be confirmed through an investigation. Moreover, violators of § 195.5 are subject to civil penalty.


Q: When employees resign -- or are discharged -- from a job, must the employer pay them for any accrued, unused vacation time?

A: Whether an employer must pay for unused time depends upon the terms of the vacation and/or resignation policy. New York courts have held that an agreement to give benefits or wage supplements, like vacation, can specify that employees lose accrued benefits under certain conditions. [See Glenville Gage Company, Inc. v. Industrial Board of Appeals of the State of New York, Department of Labor, 70 AD2d 283 (3d Dept 1979) affd, 52 NY2d 777 (1980).] To be valid, the employer must have told employees, in writing, of the conditions that nullify the benefit.




An employee has earned vacation time

There is no written forfeit policy

The employer must pay the employee for the accrued vacation


Q: How can employees get help to collect Wage Supplements (fringe benefits) that their employer owes them?

A: The Division of Labor Standards investigates and tries to collect claims for unpaid benefits or wage supplements which the employer has agreed to provide. Wage supplements include:

  • Vacation or holiday pay
  • Paid sick leave
  • Reimbursement of expenses
  • Other similar items
Section 198c of the New York State Labor Law, Benefits or Wage Supplements (opens in a new window)

Notice Requirements for Fringe Benefits and Hours (open in a new window

Unpaid/Withheld Wages or Wage Supplements/Fringe Benefits Claim Information (open in a new window)

 - Submit completed claim to the nearest Division of Labor Standards Office  (open in a new window)


Q: Does the law require that an employer "give notice" of termination?

A: The New York State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act became a law on August 5, 2008, with the approval of the Governor (passed by a majority vote, three-fifths being present). Under the provisions of the act:

Private sector employers with 50 or more workers (excluding part-time employees as defined under the regulations). Employers must provide at least 90 days notice before closing a plant. A plant closing refers to the shutdown of a single site of employment that results in an employment loss of 25 or more full-time employees during any 30-day period. They must send the WARN notice to employees, their representatives, the State Labor Department and local workforce investment partners.
For a mass layoff that does not result from a plant closing. Employers also must provide at least 90 days notice when there is a layoff (excluding part-time employees as defined under the regulations) that affects 33 percent of the workforce (at least 25 workers) or 250 workers from a single employment site. They must send the WARN notice to employees, their representatives, the State Labor Department and local workforce investment partners.

For more details regarding state WARN regulations and Rapid Response re-employment services, go to:


Q: Where will I find details on pensions and retirement funds, 401Ks, health & welfare plans, continuation of health care coverage and severance?

A: The Employee Benefits Security Administration enforces the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). It also enforces the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).  These acts cover matters that  involve:

  • Pensions and retirement funds
  • 401Ks
  • Health & welfare plans
  • Continuation of health care coverage
  • Severance
For more information, go to:


Q: Can you fire an employee without due cause?

A: Yes. New York is an 'at-will' employment State.  Without a contract restricting termination, generally an employer has the right to discharge an employee at any time for any, or no, reason, providing it is not an act of illegal retaliation or discrimination (see below).

An employee also has the right to leave their job at any time, without needing to defend or explain that decision. 


There are, however, exceptions to 'at-will' employment in New York State -

The New York State Division of Human Rights enforces laws which prohibit discrimination based on the following:

  • Race
  • Creed
  • National Origin
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Marital Status
For more information about how the New York State Division of Human Rights handles unlawful forms of discrimination, go to the Division of Human Rights website

The New York State Department of Labor enforces Labor Law Section 201-d, which prohibits discrimination against the engagement in certain activities, including:

  • Political or recreational activities outside of work
  • Legal use of consumable products outside of work
  • Membership in a union 
The New York State Department of Labor also enforces Labor Law Section 215, which prohibits retaliation.

  • Section 215 states that no employer shall penalize (including terminating) any employee for making a complaint to the employer, to the Commissioner of Labor, or to the Commissioner's representative, about any provision of the Labor Law (Violation of Section 215 can bring a civil fine and separate civil action by the employee). 

To obtain the text of the statutes discussed above, go to:


Q: When must terminated employees get their last check?

A: When employment has ended, the employer must pay the wages by the regular payday for the pay period worked. If asked, the employer must mail the final wages to the employee


Q: How can employees get help to collect wages their employer owes them?

A: The Division of Labor Standards investigates claims for unpaid or withheld wages including illegal deductions, and tries to collect these wages. Labor Standards also enforces the prohibition against illegal kickback of wages and tip appropriation.

  • Unpaid/Withheld Wages or Wage Supplements/Fringe Benefits Claim Information (open in a new window)
- Submit completed claim(s) to the nearest Division of Labor Standards Office


Q: May employers deduct money from wages?

A: Employers are only allowed to deduct certain items from an employee's wages, such as taxes, insurance premiums, union dues, etc.  They are not permitted to charge employees for breakages, cash shortages, fines or any other losses to the business. 

For more detailed information on deductions, please see Section 193 of the New York State Labor Law (open in a new window)


Q: What information must an employer's payroll records contain?

A: Employers must keep payroll records showing, for each week worked by an employee:

  1. the total hours worked each day;
  2. the total hours worked each week;
  3. the rate or rates of pay and basis (by the hour, shift, day, week, salary, piece, commission or other);
  4. if paid more than one hourly rate, the number of hours worked at each rate;
  5. if paid piece rates, the number of pieces completed at each piece rate;
  6. gross wages
  7. deductions
  8. allowances or credits, if any, claimed as part of the minimum wage; and
  9. net wages.

If the employee worked overtime and is required to be paid at a higher rate for overtime hours, the payroll records must also include the four items listed below, along with the items listed above:

  1. the number of regular hours worked;
  2. the regular hourly rate or rates of pay;
  3. the number of overtime hours worked; and
  4. the overtime rates of pay.


Q: What posters must employers display in the workplace? Where can they get the posters?

A: The posters required by New York State law are available at the following website:

New York State Labor Law requires all employers to display a Minimum Wage Poster.  However, employers in certain, specific industries have more posting responsibilities.

As shown on the above website, employers "engaged in the sale or service of food or beverages" must post:

  • A reprint of § 193, entitled, "Deductions From Wages"
  • A reprint of § 196-d, entitled "Gratuities"
Other employers with specific posting requirements include:

  • Agricultural and garment industry employers
  • Employers involved in Industrial Homework
  • Employment Agencies
Employers who hire minors must post a schedule setting forth "the hours of beginning and stopping and the time allowed for meals" of each minor in their employ.

To obtain federal posting requirements, contact the U.S. Department of Labor at their website:

For more information on New York State laws and regulations governing the Apparel Industry, go to:

For more information on Farm Labor, Industrial Homework and Employment Agencies, go to:

For more information on Child Labor, go to:


Q: Where can I find the New York State Labor Laws on the Internet?

A: The New York State Labor laws are available online at the New York State Assembly homepage:


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