Cuomo Announces Task Force Will Enforce New Minimum Wage
As a new minimum wage takes effect in New York, a 200-member multi-agency Minimum Wage Enforcement and Outreach Unit has been launched. The body is charged with ensuring that all minimum wage workers are paid properly.
The Enforcement and Outreach Unit, a first-of-its-kind in the nation, will also help businesses understand their responsibilities and workers understand their rights under the new wage regulations. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the task force Monday in New York City. "...their purpose is to both inform and enforce. A lot of workers don’t know that they just got a raise and they need to know this because they need to make sure it is in their pay check. A lot of employers don’t know that the minimum wage went up and they need to know it also. So, these 200 investigators will be informing people and making sure the law is followed through."
In early 2016, Cuomo signed landmark legislation making New York the first state in the nation to enact a $15 minimum wage. The investigators and staffers are being assigned to spread the word about the increase — and make sure businesses comply. "This is not a voluntary effort. It’s not that we are recommending a nice idea that businesses raise the wage. This is the law, and if a business does not follow the law, they can be subject to significant monetary penalties and they can also be subject to criminal penalties if it is egregious."
Cuomo stressed the importance of enacting the new law quickly and fairly. Commissioner of Labor Roberta Reardon detailed a three-pronged comprehensive plan for educating those affected. "The first is business services. Business services will help businesses with identifying the proper pay rate for their employees. They will assist both workers and businesses in understanding any changes in the minimum wage, with a special focus on those for whom English is not their first language. And we are establishing regional representatives and communication, so that workers and businesses in every part of the state can know their rights. The second component is outreach. Unit staff members have been and will continue to proactively contact business and worker advocate organizations throughout the state and offer webinar and in-person presentations to help them understand how the minimum wage requirements work in their area. And the third component, of course, is enforcement. Now, the New York state department of labor is charged with enforcing the minimum wage law. Part of this process is ensuring that businesses are held accountable, and that everyone is upholding the law."
The state’s new minimum wage varies by region. It is now $9.70 upstate; $10 in Westchester County and on Long Island; and $11 in New York City, $10.50 for small businesses employing 10 or fewer.
Cuomo believes it will change people’s lives for the better because the wage hike represents a long overdue increase.