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Understanding New York labor and overtime pay laws is crucial for employers and employees. These laws ensure fair compensation and protect workers’ rights. Here, we examine minimum wage regulations, overtime rules, and other essential aspects like tip-sharing and meal breaks to provide you with a clear, concise understanding of your rights and responsibilities under New York’s labor laws.

Minimum Wage Laws in New York

In New York, the minimum wage laws are designed to ensure that workers receive fair compensation for their labor. As of January 1, 2024, the minimum wage in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester is set at $16.00 per hour. This rate reflects the state’s commitment to supporting a living wage in areas with higher living costs. Meanwhile, in the rest of New York State, the minimum wage is slightly lower, standing at $15.00 per hour. 

Looking ahead, the state has planned further increases to the minimum wage. Starting January 1, 2025, the minimum wage in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties will rise to $16.50 per hour, aligning with the increasing cost of living in these regions. Simultaneously, the rest of the state will see an increase to $15.50 per hour. Recent amendments to the Labor Law stipulate another $0.50 increase on January 1, 2026. These incremental raises are part of a broader effort to ensure wages keep pace with economic conditions, benefiting workers across New York.

Overtime Pay Regulations in New York

In New York, overtime pay regulations are designed to ensure that employees receive fair compensation for the extra hours they work beyond the standard 40-hour workweek. The basic rule is straightforward: employees are entitled to one and a half times their regular pay rate for any hours worked over 40 in a week. However, it’s important to know that not everyone falls under this regulation due to specific exemptions based on job functions and industries. Employees need to understand their eligibility for overtime pay, as it significantly impacts their earnings, especially in jobs with long hours or demanding schedules.

Overtime Pay Exemptions in New York

In New York, not all employees are eligible for overtime pay, with specific exemptions rooted in the nature and responsibilities of certain professions. These exemptions recognize the unique demands and expectations of specialized roles, where the concept of a standard workweek may not align with the realities of the job. For example, positions that require a high degree of autonomy, decision-making, or specialized knowledge often fall outside the standard overtime rules, acknowledging that such roles are not strictly hour-bound and often involve outcomes rather than hours worked.

Overtime Pay Exempt Employees in New York

  • Executive Employees
  • Administrative Employees
  • Professional Employees
  • Outside Sales Employees
  • Farm Laborers
  • Individuals Working for a Federal, State, or Municipal Government
  • Certain Volunteers, Interns, and Apprentices
  • Taxicab drivers
  • Members of Religious Orders
  • Certain Individuals Working for Religious or Charitable institutions
  • Camp Counselors
  • Individuals Working for a Fraternity, Sorority, Student or Faculty Association
  • Part-time Baby Sitters

These exemptions are designed to reflect the complexity and nature of certain jobs, ensuring that employment regulations accommodate a diverse workforce.

Executive Exemption

The executive exemption is designed for employees in significant managerial roles, necessitating a dual criterion: job responsibilities and a salary threshold. To qualify, an individual must supervise two or more employees, have a say in hiring and firing decisions, and manage a distinct department or division. Additionally, they must meet a specific salary level, set by regulations, ensuring their earnings reflect their exempt status. This combination of salary and duties underscores the strategic importance of their roles and distinguishes them from hourly positions.

Administrative Exemption

The administrative exemption targets employees involved in non-manual or office work that directly relates to management policies or general business operations. Eligibility hinges on the employee’s role in exercising discretion and independent judgment on significant matters. Additionally, these employees must meet a prescribed salary level. This exemption acknowledges the critical, decision-making nature of their work, which significantly impacts business operations and strategies, setting them apart from hourly roles.

Professional Exemption

The professional exemption is reserved for employees whose roles demand advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning, typically acquired through prolonged education. This exemption includes roles such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, and engineers, who utilize discretion and judgment in their work. To qualify, professionals must also meet a minimum salary threshold, ensuring their compensation reflects the specialized, intellectual nature of their work. This exemption acknowledges the unique contributions of professionals to their fields, beyond the scope of hourly tasks.

Overtime Pay Calculations

Overtime pay calculations can be complex. The regular rate of pay includes not just hourly wages, but may also encompass certain bonuses, commissions, and other incentive pay. For employees, being aware of how their overtime pay is computed is crucial to ensure they receive all wages owed to them. It’s a fundamental right under New York labor laws, aimed at protecting workers from being overworked and underpaid.


  • For a non-exempt employee earning $20/hour: If they work 45 hours in a week, their overtime pay would be calculated as $20 x 1.5 x 5 hours = $150 extra for that week.
  • For a non-exempt employee with a salary of $800/week: Assuming a 50-hour workweek, their effective hourly rate becomes $16/hour ($800/40 hours), making their overtime rate $24/hour. For the 10 hours of overtime, they would earn an additional $240. This calculation will be different if an employer utilizes the fluctuating workweek method for calculating overtime pay. 

Common Labor Scenarios and Violations in New York

New York is home to an array of unique scenarios and labor practices that are often commonplace to employees. Some standard labor practices that New York employees (depending on their profession) deal with daily include tip-sharing, tip-pooling, call-in pay periods, “clopening” shifts, and “spread of hours” shifts. There are also different implications regarding holidays, vacations, sick leave, meal breaks, and pay periods. Below is a breakdown of the meaning of each labor practice:

Tip-Sharing, Tip-Pooling, and Credit Card Charges

Tip-sharing and tip-pooling are common practices in service industries in New York, where tips significantly supplement employee earnings. Under these systems, tips are collected and distributed among a group of employees. Tip-sharing involves giving a portion of one’s tips to other staff members, like busboys or bartenders, who contribute to the service. On the other hand, tip-pooling involves pooling all tips received and distributing them among the staff. Both practices are legal, but employers must adhere to strict guidelines to ensure fairness and compliance with labor laws.

Another important aspect related to tipping is the handling of credit card charges. When customers tip via credit card, employers can deduct a percentage of the tip to cover credit card processing fees. However, this deduction cannot reduce an employee’s wages below the required minimum wage. This policy ensures that the convenience of credit card tipping does not unduly burden the employees.

Call-In, Reporting Pay, and Predictable Schedule

Call-in pay and reporting pay are integral parts of New York’s labor laws, providing essential protections for employees. When employees report for a scheduled shift but are either sent home early or find minimal work available, call-in and reporting pay regulations ensure they receive fair compensation for their time and effort. Usually, restaurant or hotel workers are entitled to three hours’ pay at the applicable minimum rate, and employees in other private workplaces are entitled to four hours’ pay at the applicable minimum rate. The law states: “An employee who… reports for work on any day shall be paid for at least four hours, or the number of hours in the regularly scheduled shift, whichever is less, at the basic minimum hourly wage.” This framework acknowledges the cost and inconvenience to employees who make themselves available for work, reinforcing the principle of fair labor practices.

The New York City Fair Workweek Law further strengthens employee rights, particularly in the fast food and retail sectors. This legislation includes predictable scheduling laws requiring employers to provide workers with stable and predictable work schedules. These laws mandate advance notice of work schedules and compensation for last-minute changes. Fast-food employers must provide work schedules at least 14 days in advance. If there are changes within this period, employees are entitled to additional compensation. This includes premiums for schedule changes made with less than 14 days’ notice and extra pay for last-minute cancellations or reductions in hours. The law also obliges employers to offer additional shifts to current employees before hiring new ones, ensuring existing workers have the chance to increase their work hours. 

In the retail industry, the Fair Workweek Law abolishes on-call scheduling, a practice that demands employees to be available without the certainty of work. This crucial change provides workers with more predictable and stable work hours, enhancing their financial stability and work-life balance. They are entitled to 72 hours advance notice of their work schedule, and there can be no shift additions with less than 72 hours’ notice unless the employee consents. If an employer does not give an employee their schedule with the prescribed advanced notice, they may be required to pay the employee $300 and a possible $500 fine. These measures collectively advocate for fair and respectful labor practices.


New York City’s regulations on “clopening” shifts, particularly in the fast food sector, offer significant protections for employees. These shifts, where an employee closes the business and then reopens it the next morning with minimal rest, have been a point of contention due to their impact on workers’ health and well-being. The Fair Workweek Law in New York City mandates that employees cannot be required to work these consecutive shifts if the interval between them is less than 11 hours unless they voluntarily consent in writing. Furthermore, employees who agree to such shifts are entitled to a $100 premium as compensation. This law forms a part of broader efforts to ensure predictable scheduling and safeguard against wrongful termination, underscoring the importance of workers’ rights to adequate rest and a balanced work life.

Spread of Hours

The “spread of hours” law in New York is an important labor regulation, particularly relevant for hourly wage workers. This law stipulates that for any workday where the hours worked exceed 10 hours, the employee is entitled to an extra hour of pay at the minimum wage rate. This rule applies regardless of whether the employee actually works those full 10 hours. It’s designed to compensate workers for long workdays that may include significant gaps or split shifts. Understanding this law is crucial for employees in industries with non-traditional or flexible scheduling, ensuring they are fairly compensated for extended work days.

Holidays, Vacation, and Sick Leave

In New York, while no state-mandated laws require private employers to provide paid holidays, vacation, or sick leave, many choose to offer these benefits as part of their employment package. This approach varies widely among employers, and it’s often influenced by industry standards, union agreements, and individual company policies. Employees are encouraged to review their employment contracts or consult with HR for specific details regarding their entitlements. Regarding sick leave, recent state legislation mandates certain employers to provide paid sick leave, offering crucial protection and support for workers during illness or family health emergencies.

Meal Breaks and Rest Periods

In New York, labor laws mandate specific meal breaks and rest periods for employees, ensuring necessary downtime during work hours. Employees working a shift of more than six hours, which extends over the noonday meal period, are entitled to at least a 30-minute lunch break. Additionally, those working shifts starting before 11 am and finishing after 7 pm are entitled to an additional 20-minute meal break. These meal breaks are typically unpaid unless the employer specifies otherwise. There are no statutory rest break requirements for shorter shifts, but employers may offer them at their discretion. Understanding these regulations helps employees ensure they receive the breaks they are legally entitled to.

Pay Stubs, Pay Periods, and Deductions

In New York, pay stubs, pay periods, and deductions are regulated to ensure transparency and fairness in wage payments. Employers are required to provide employees with a detailed pay stub each pay period. This pay stub must include specifics such as the pay period dates, gross wages, deductions, and net wages. Clarity in pay stubs is crucial as it allows employees to understand exactly how their pay is calculated and verify their wages’ accuracy. 

Regular pay periods are mandated by law, with the frequency varying based on the type of work and agreement with the employer, ensuring consistent and timely wage payments. Under New York state law, there’s a specific mandate for “manual workers” to receive their wages on a weekly basis. The New York Department of Labor classifies manual workers as those who spend at least 25% of their work time engaged in physical labor. This encompasses many physical tasks beyond heavy lifting, including stocking shelves, unpacking boxes, cleaning, operating machinery, and organizing inventory. Importantly, the definition of manual workers is broad, covering roles such as customer service associates, stockers, hairdressers, and restaurant staff, underscoring the inclusive approach of New York labor law in protecting workers across various sectors.

The law is stringent regarding what can and cannot be deducted from an employee’s wages. Permissible deductions include taxes, social security, and benefits like health insurance, which the employee has agreed to. However, deductions for items like cash shortages, breakages, or required uniforms are typically not allowed. These regulations protect employees from unfair wage practices and ensure they receive the full compensation they legally earn.

Statute of Limitations

Under New York Labor Law, the statute of limitations for filing claims related to labor law violations can vary, making it crucial for employees to understand these timelines to protect their rights effectively. Employees have six years to file a claim for unpaid overtime and minimum wage violations, a notably longer period than under federal law. This extended timeframe also applies to claims regarding missing tips. For instance, if an employee realizes they were not compensated correctly for overtime work performed five years ago, they remain within their legal rights to initiate a claim under New York State law. Employees in New York must be cognizant of these extended periods, which offer a broader window to seek redress for unpaid wages or other compensations owed to them.

Layoffs, Plant Closings and WARN Notices

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) offers protection to New York workers, their families, and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. This notice must be provided to either affected workers or their representatives (e.g., a labor union).

An employer who violates the WARN Act by failing to provide appropriate notice is liable to each employee for an amount of up to 60 days back pay and benefits for the period of violation.

Do You Have Questions About New York’s Labor Laws?

Gaining a thorough understanding of New York’s labor laws is essential to safeguard your rights and interests as an employee. We encourage you to delve deeper into these regulations to ensure you are fully informed. If you have any questions or need legal assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact the Lore Law Firm, where our experienced team is ready to provide you with professional guidance and support. Complete our free and confidential online client intake form to get started.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you refuse overtime in New York?

In New York, employees can refuse overtime in certain situations, but it largely depends on the terms of their employment and applicable collective bargaining agreements. New York State law does not explicitly prohibit employers from requiring overtime work. However, employers must pay overtime at 1.5 times the regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a workweek unless the employee is exempt due to their job classification. It’s important for employees to review their employment contracts and union agreements, if any, as these documents may contain specific provisions about overtime. In cases without specific agreements, while refusal is legally permissible, it could impact employment status.

How long does an unpaid overtime lawsuit in New York take?

After filing a lawsuit to recover unpaid overtime in NY, the amount of time it takes to reach a resolution or settlement can vary based on numerous factors. Some cases resolve very quickly (within a few months) and other more complex cases can typically take 1-2 years or more. Most overtime cases filed in NY move through the process and reach a settlement before a trial.

How long do I have to bring a wage claim under New York labor law?

The statute of limitations for bringing a claim for unpaid overtime wages is 6 years under NY law.

What is considered overtime in the State of New York?

In New York, overtime is considered any hours worked beyond a 40-hour week. Overtime pay, at a rate of 1.5 times the regular pay, is required for hours worked by a non-exempt employee in excess of this threshold.

Which occupations are exempt from the overtime pay provisions of the New York State Labor Law?

  • Executive Employees
  • Administrative Employees
  • Professional Employees
  • Outside Salespeople
  • Individuals Working for a Federal, State, or Municipal Government
  • Farm Laborers
  • Certain Volunteers, Interns, and Apprentices
  • Taxicab drivers
  • Members of Religious Orders
  • Certain Individuals Working for Religious or Charitable institutions
  • Camp Counselors
  • Individuals Working for a Fraternity, Sorority, Student or Faculty Association
  • Part-time Babysitters

If I work weekends or holidays in New York, will I receive overtime pay?

New York law does not require employers to pay employees extra for working on holidays or weekends unless there is an individual employment contract stating otherwise. The other exception would be if the time worked on the holiday or weekend requires the employee to work more than 40 hours that week.

Is it legal to work 7 days a week in NY?

Working seven days a week in New York is legal but with certain protections under the New York State Labor Law. Specifically, the law requires that employees in certain industries receive at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in any calendar week. These industries include factories, certain hotels, restaurants (except small, rural restaurants), hotels, or professions like elevator operator, watchman, janitor, farmworker, or superintendent industry. For those working seven days a week, additional compensation requirements may apply, particularly for the seventh consecutive day of work, ensuring workers are fairly compensated for the extended work period.

What is the overtime cap for NYC employees?

For employees of New York City, overtime regulations can differ from those in the private sector. Generally, city government employees are also entitled to overtime pay for hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek, in accordance with the FLSA. However, specific overtime caps and eligibility may vary based on the employee’s role, union agreements, and specific departmental policies. Some positions may have predetermined caps on the amount of overtime that can be accrued in a fiscal year, reflecting budgetary constraints and operational needs. It’s important for NYC government employees to consult their department’s human resources policies or their union contract for precise details.

What is the longest shift you can legally work?

In New York, there is no state-specific legal maximum for the number of hours an adult can work in a single shift. Like federal guidelines under the FLSA, New York labor laws require that non-exempt employees receive overtime pay at 1.5 times their regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. However, New York does offer certain protections, like required meal breaks and, in specific cases, a day of rest. While there are safety and health regulations in certain industries that may impact shift lengths, the state does not impose a general cap on shift duration.

What makes a worker an employee or an independent contractor in New York?

An independent contractor is a worker contracted to do a specific job or work without the company’s control, direction, or supervision. If the employer has the right to control the work a person does, then they are likely an employee and not a contractor.

An employer-employee relationship likely exists if the hiring party:

  • Chooses when, where, and how the services are performed
  • Provides facilities, equipment, tools, and supplies
  • Directly supervises the services
  • Sets the hours of work
  • Sets the rate of pay
  • Requires attendance at meetings and/or training sessions
  • Requires prior permission for absences

If I take a meal break at work, am I paid for that time by my employer?

Your employer is not required to compensate you for time spent taking a lunch or meal break at work so long as you are relieved of all duties during this time. If you are frequently interrupted during your lunch or meal break and called upon to do work, this should be counted as time worked and paid accordingly.

Can employees waive or sign away their right to receive overtime pay under NY law?

No. The right for non-exempt workers to receive overtime pay under NY labor law cannot be waived or given up by an employer and employee entering into an agreement. Any agreement that attempts to deny workers the right to overtime pay will be considered illegal and unenforceable under NY law.