New York Payroll Laws and Processing: What Companies Should Know

Employers with businesses in New York State need to be aware of all the different rules and regulations regarding processing payroll. When it comes to New York Payroll Law and processing, employers need to stay compliant with laws regarding employee pay and minimum wage, overtime, salary disclosure, payroll deductions, and more. 

To make it slightly more challenging, regulations may depend on where your business or your employees are located in the state. The following guide can help employers process payroll in New York while maintaining compliance.

New York State Payroll Laws and Processing for 2023 / 2024

Employers with businesses or employees anywhere in New York (Upstate, New York City, Westchester, Etc.) must generally be aware of the following laws and regulations in order to successfully and legally process payroll in the state:

  • Minimum Wage
  • Overtime Pay
  • Pay Period & Payroll Schedule Requirements
  • Salary Disclosure
  • Travel Time Pay
  • Final Pay Requirements
  • Payroll Deductions
  • Unemployment Tax
  • Tax Withholding
  • Social Security Regulations
  • 401(k) limits

The New York State Department of Labor also has a Wage and Hour FAQ for New York employers on their website. For businesses that may not have the resources or bandwidth to understand the legislation or comply with it, a New York State payroll service might be right for you.

New York Minimum Wage

While the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, New York minimum wage depends on where an employer’s business is located in the state, with the exception of some remote workers and employees that perform work in varying locations.

Under New York State minimum wage law, all New York City, Long Island, and Westchester employees must be paid the minimum wage of $15 as of 12/31/22. However currently, for the remainder of New York State, the minimum wage is only $14.20*.

UPDATE 11.14.24: New York State Minimum Wage for 2024 is $16.00 per hour for New York City, Long Island County, and Westchester County as of January 1st, 2024, and $15.00 per hour for the remainder of the state. While nothing has yet been announced regarding new minimum wages for tipped employees, employers should note that previously required cash wages and tip credits were equal to the regular minimum wage in each respective location. This will likely be the same for 2024.

Businesses should be aware of specific minimum wage requirements for New York tipped employees throughout the state.

Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers in New York

Also important for employers to remember is that currently, regardless of location, the minimum wage for all fast food workers in New York is $15.00 an hour. 

Overtime Pay Requirements

Also included in the New York State Minimum Wage Order, are requirements for overtime pay. These requirements are in addition to those included in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In New York, most employees receive a rate of pay of 1 ½ times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. In some cases, certain residential employees must work over 44 hours in a workweek to receive overtime pay.

Companies may also have agreements or contracts in place that call for greater overtime payments than those required by law. If so they must adhere to the guidelines they set in place. 

New York overtime laws apply to all individuals employed or permitted to work by an employer in any occupation, excluding the occupations listed below.New call-to-action

Overtime Exemptions

The following occupations are exempt from overtime pay in the state of New York under both state and federal law:

  • Executive Employees
  • Administrative Employees
  • Professional Employees
  • Outside Salespeople
  • Government Employees
  • Farm Laborers 
  • Certain Volunteers, Interns, & Apprentices
  • Taxicab Drivers
  • Members of Religious Orders
  • Individuals Working for a Fraternity, Sorority, Student, or Faculty Association
  • Camp Counselors 
  • Certain Individuals Working for Religious or Charitable Institutions 
  • Part-time Baby Sitters 

In some cases, certain occupations that are exempt from overtime pay under FLSA are covered under New York law, yet overtime compensation is 1 ½ times the state minimum wage regardless of the employee's regular rate of pay. 

Also important to be aware of, is that while government employees are not covered by state requirements, charter schools, private schools, not-for-profit corporations, and employees working for school districts (non-teachers only) are covered.

How to Determine Regular Rate of Pay in New York

Important for employers to remember is the following forms of compensation are not considered part of an employee's regular rate of pay and should not be used in determining overtime rates:

  • Pay for expenses incurred on the employer's behalf
  • Premium payments for overtime work
  • True premiums paid for work on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
  • Discretionary bonuses
  • Gifts
  • Payments in the nature of gifts on special occasions
  • Payments for occasional periods when no work is performed due to vacation, holidays, or illness

New York Payroll Schedule Rules

New York employers must be in compliance with the New York Frequency of Pay law when processing payroll. 

In order to stay compliant, employers must pay manual workers weekly, and clerical workers at least twice per month. However, employers that meet certain criteria may apply to pay manual workers less frequently than once per week.

Exceptions to Frequency of Pay

The following occupations are exempt from the standard regulations of pay frequency: 

  • Railroad Workers
    • Must be paid on or before Thursday of each week, for wages earned in the six days prior to, and the Tuesday (7 days total) of the previous week.
  • Commission Salespersons
    • Must be paid in accordance with agreed terms from a written contract
    • Must be at least once per month
    • Compensation must be paid for each month by the last day of the following month
    • Some exceptions may apply for substantial wages, and additional compensation earned, including extra or incentive earnings

Employers can find more information on the New York Frequency of Pay law FAQ.

New York Salary Disclosure

When it comes to salary disclosure in New York, employers need to be aware of the New York State Salary History Ban, which works to help promote pay equity in the state of New York.

The Salary History Ban prevents all employers in the state from inquiring about the salary and compensation history of any potential new hire or current employee. Businesses and employers are also prohibited from seeking that information from a third-party source. The law applies to all forms of compensation, including benefits. 

Employers are also prohibited from using an applicant’s salary history information (if voluntarily disclosed) to determine whether or not to hire or interview them.

Employees that wish to file a complaint against a violation of the law may do so via the Department of Labor’s Division of Labor Standards.

Paying Employees for Travel Time in New York

Companies in New York must adhere to the FLSA when it comes to paying employees for travel time. As a result, when it comes to travel time pay in New York, whether or not time is compensated depends on the type of travel.

New York Final Paycheck Requirements

In comparison to other areas of New York payroll processing, New York Final Pay is much more straightforward. Upon termination, employers must pay employees by the regularly scheduled payday for the last pay period worked.  

Employees have the right to request that their final wages be mailed. If so, employers must honor the request.

Before terminating an employee, employers should ensure they understand the rules of New York At-Will Employment Law.

Unused Benefits, Paid Time Off (PTO), Etc.

New York does not require that employers pay out any unused benefits or things such as PTO.

However, any employer that includes payment of unused benefits in their terms of employment must uphold their established policy and pay out any unused and accrued benefits.

Pay Deductions in New York State

Generally, when it comes to New York payroll deductions, employers are not allowed to deduct any portion of an employee's wages, with a few legal exceptions, when processing payroll. 

Typically employers may deduct from employee wages so long as the deduction is in accordance with the provisions of any law or any rule or regulation issued by any governmental agency.

Employers may also deduct from employee wages if:

    • The deduction is expressly authorized in writing by the employee and is for the benefit of the employee. Such deductions may be made for the following reasons:
      • Insurance premiums and prepaid legal plans
      • Pension
      • Health and welfare benefits
      • Bonafide charitable organization donations and contributions 
      • Purchases made at events sponsored by a bona fide charitable organization affiliated with the employer where at least twenty percent of the profits from such event are being contributed to a bona fide charitable organization
      • U.S. Bonds
      • Dues or assessments to a labor organization 
      • Discounted parking, or other means of mass transit 
      • Fitness center, health club, and or gym membership dues
      • Cafeteria and vending machine purchases made at the employer's place of business and purchases made at gift shops operated by the employer, where the employer is a hospital, college, or university
      • Pharmacy Purchases made the employer’s place of business 
      • Tuition, room, board, or other educational fees 
      • Daycare and other similar childcare expenses
      • Payments for housing provided at no more than market rates by non-profit hospitals or affiliates thereof
    • The deduction is related to the recovery of an overpayment of wages
      • Must be due to mathematical or other clerical errors by the employer. 
    • The deduction is for the repayment of advances in salary or wages made by the employer
    • The deduction is made in conjunction with an employer-sponsored pre-tax contribution plan approved by the IRS or other tax authority

Important for employers to remember is no charges may be made to an employee unless such a charge is permitted as a deduction from wages.

Unemployment Tax (SUTA / SUI)

Employers in the state need to be aware of their responsibilities regarding New York unemployment tax. One of the most important responsibilities that employers have is the obligation to provide information to their employees to help them complete the unemployment insurance benefits application, using Form IA 12.3.

2023 /2024 Unemployment Contribution Rates

Starting in the first week of each year, employer accounts are chargeable under the standard provisions of the New York State Unemployment Insurance Law

Businesses can find more information on the New York 2024 SUI Tax Rates and 2023 Tax Rates as well as common questions regarding New York SUI, here.

New York Payroll Taxes

According to New York Withholding tax rules, employers are required to withhold and pay personal income tax on:

  • Wages 
  • Salaries 
  • Bonuses 
  • Commissions
  • Other similar income paid to employees

Exceptions to personal income tax include: 

  • Out-of-state employers who are not covered by New York State law nor maintain an office or transact business in New York State are not required to withhold income tax for employees residing in New York
  • If an employer chooses to withhold income tax anyway for the convenience of their New York employees, then they are subject to New York State withholding requirements

Withholding Requirements

Employers operating in the state of New York, according to withholding requirements, must withhold tax for:

  • New York State residents earning wages
    • Even if earned outside of the state
  • Nonresidents being paid wages for work performed in the state
  • NYC residents being paid wages for work performed outside the city
  • Yonkers residents being paid wages for work performed outside of Yonkers
  • Yonkers nonresidents being paid wages for work performed in Yonkers

Social Security Payroll Taxes

Social Security tax is collected in the form of a payroll tax mandated by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) or a self-employment tax mandated by the Self-Employed Contributions Act (SECA).

Effective as of January 1, 2022, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced maximum earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax have increased by 5.9 percent to $147,000. 

The tax rate for Social Security or OASDI is 6.20% (or more commonly viewed as a combined rate of 7.65% when coupled with Medicare). The self-employed combined rate is 15.30%.

Federal 401(k) Limit

The IRS announced changes to 401(k) limits and planning. Employees in 2024 may contribute up to $23,000, up from $22,500 for 2023.

The contribution limit applies to employees with 401(k)s, 403(b)s, most 457 plans, and Thrift Savings Plans.

Final Thoughts on New York Payroll Compliance

Processing payroll can be a difficult task for any business in the country, but for companies operating in New York, that task can be especially challenging. Companies that fall out of compliance may find themselves facing serious New York labor law penalties and fines.

New York employers who are struggling with payroll processing compliance, or who are stuck with slow manual payroll processing, may want to consider making the switch to a modern New York payroll solution.

Alternatively, New York businesses may want to consider seeking help from a New York Payroll Software Provider for simple and easy payroll processing. 

To learn more about how EBC HCM is already helping countless companies across New York process payroll, contact us today.

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