The Business Council supports this legislation that, among other things, repeals the annual employee notice and acknowledgement requirement of the “wage theft prevention act” (WTPA).
The purpose of the WTPA is to assure that workers receive full payment of wages and benefits earned. It establishes compliance requirements for employers, and civil recovery and civil penalty provisions applicable to violators.
Despite these important objectives, employers have raised significant concerns about the WTPA's annual notice requirement, which imposes an additional, recurring administrative burden on all private sector employers in New York State, while providing no meaningful benefit. Ironically, this mandate primarily affects employers that are already in full compliance with wage payment laws, as it is unlikely that an employer who is purposefully withholding the payment of wages is going to provide employees with an annual notice specifying what wages were owed.
We believe this change represents a sensible and limited modification to the WTPA, and we support its adoption.
In addition, this legislation increases the daily and maximum amount of recoverable “damages” by an employee that did not receive a required time of hire notice, and/or a required paystub notice, and increases maximum civil penalties to be imposed by the Department of Labor for similar violations. The bill also establishes caps on total recoveries and civil penalties.
Further, in the case of both employee recovery and civil penalty assessments for time of hire and pay stub notice requirements, the WTPA's affirmative defenses would apply (i.e., the employer has made complete and timely payment of waged due or had a good faith belief that the notice requirement did not apply.)
The bill would adopt additional enforcement provisions applicable to employers found to have violated wage payment laws.
We recognize that provisions of this bill dealing with DoL oversight and enforcement efforts have raised some concerns. But we also believe it is important that reforms be adopted prior to the January 2015 compliance cycle for the annual notice/acknowledgement provision.
This legislation adopts the key WTPA reforms advocated by The Business Council and other employer groups. For these reasons, The Business Council supports S.5885-B/A.8106-C.