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Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers?

A: The Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers is a new minimum wage rate established for fast food employees working in New York State.


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Q: When does the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers take effect?

A: The first increase took effect on December 31, 2015.


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Q: Is the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers $15.00 per hour?

A: After a series of annual increases, the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers will be $15.00 per hour.


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Q: Is the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers rate the same for all fast food employees in the State?

A: When fully implemented, the rate will be the same for all fast food workers. During the phase-in period, the rates paid to such workers in New York City are different from the rate paid to workers in the rest of the State.


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Q: What are the Minimum Wage rates for Fast Food Workers?

A:  

New York City
12/31/2015 $10.50 per hour
12/31/2016 $12.00 per hour
12/31/2017 $13.50 per hour
12/31/2018 $15.00 per hour

Rest of the State
12/31/2015 $9.75 per hour
12/31/2016 $10.75 per hour
12/31/2017 $11.75 per hour
12/31/2018 $12.75 per hour
12/31/2019 $13.75 per hour
12/31/2020 $14.50 per hour
07/01/2021 $15.00 per hour


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Q: Which employees must be paid the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers?

A: Any person working at a Fast Food Establishment must be paid the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers. An employee's job duties must include at least one of the following: customer service, cooking, food or drink preparation, delivery, security, stocking supplies or equipment, cleaning, or routine maintenance.


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Q: What is a Fast Food Establishment?

A: A Fast Food Establishment is any business that meets the following criteria:

  • Primarily serves food or drinks, including coffee shops, juice bars, donut shops, and ice cream parlors; and
  • Offers limited service where customers order and pay before eating, including restaurants with tables but without full table service and places that only provide take-out service; and
  • Is part of a chain of 30 or more locations, including individually-owned establishments associated with a brand that has 30 or more locations nationally.
The list above summarizes several definitions that are published in 12 NYCRR § 146-3.13, which should be consulted for the full and complete terms.


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Q: What is a chain?

A: For the purposes of determining the appropriate minimum wage, a chain is a set of establishments that share a common brand or are characterized by standardized options for décor, marketing, packaging, products, and services. This includes franchised locations.


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Q: Does a Fast Food Establishment include chains where all the locations are within New York State?

A: Yes, local chains that only have locations within New York State are covered as long as they have at least 30 locations. There is no requirement that the chain have locations outside of New York State.


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Q: Does a Fast Food Establishment include chains with less than 30 locations in New York State?

A: Yes, as long as the chain has at least 30 locations nationally.


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Q: Is a takeout or delivery-only establishment considered a Fast Food Establishment?

A: Yes, if the establishment fits the description above, employers must pay employees the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers.


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Q: Is a buffet-style restaurant with limited table service considered a Fast Food Establishment?

A: Yes, if the establishment fits the description above, employees must be paid the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers.


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Q: Does a Fast Food Establishment located within a non-Fast Food Establishment, such as a retail, convenience or department store, gas station, private college, or airport, have to pay the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers to employees?

A: Yes, if the Fast Food Establishment fits the description above, employers must pay employees the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers.


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Q: Does that mean that a Fast Food Establishment includes retail, convenience and department stores, and gas stations when they sell food or drinks, and are part of a chain of 30 or more locations?

A: If the service of food or drinks is not the primary purpose of the establishment or chain, then it would not be considered a Fast Food Establishment.


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Q: How much can an employer charge a fast food employee for an employer-provided meal?

A: Under the Hospitality Wage Order's provisions for non-service employees the meal credit amount varies depending on the geographical region an employee works in and the size of the employer. See our Summary of Wage Order Rates and Credits for the Hospitality Industry for detailed amounts.
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Q: How much does an employer have to pay a fast food employee who maintains his or her own uniform?

A: Under the Hospitality Wage Order, the amount owed for uniform maintenance depends on the number of hours an employee works each week, the geographical region they work in and the size of the employer.  See our guidance document LS 400 for more information about uniforms and the 'wash and wear exemption' in the Hospitality Industry.
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Q: Will there be any future changes in allowances/credits for fast food employees?

A: Yes.  For current and future amounts, see the Summary of Wage Order Rates and Credits for the Hospitality Industry.
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Q: Can fast food employees keep the tips they earn?

A: Yes, fast food employees who earn tips must be allowed to keep them. It is a Labor Law violation to take tips from employees who earn them.


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Q: Can a fast food employer take a credit towards the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers for tips earned by a fast food employee?

A: No tip credit is available under the Hospitality Wage Order for non-service employees such as fast food employees.


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Q: Are fast food employees subject to the call-in and spread-of-hours pay requirements for the Hospitality Industry?

A: Yes, call-in and spread-of-hours pay must be paid at the Minimum Wage rate for Fast Food Workers.  Additional information about call-in pay and spread of hours requirements is available at labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/CR146.pdf.


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Q: Are fast food employees eligible for overtime pay?

A: Yes, fast food employees must be paid at time-and-one-half the regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 40 per week.


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Q: What other information is available about the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers?

A: Additional information is available in our fact sheet P716, Updated Regulations, or the
Summary of Wage Order Rates and Credits for the Hospitality Industry.


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Q: What if I have a question about the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers?

A: If you have a question about the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers, call 1-888-469-7365 or email ls.ask@labor.ny.gov.


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