The White House recently announced a major change to the current overtime system that will put more money into the hands of middle-class workers. As of December 1, 2016, anybody making less than $913 per week ($47,476 per year) will automatically be eligible for overtime pay at a rate of time and a half when they work more than 40 hours in a week regardless of if they are a salary employee or classified as a manager.
The current threshold is set much lower at a rate of $455 per week ($23,660 per year). Many workers who now earn a salary of more than $455 per week are given some managerial duties or a managerial classification and are therefore ineligible for overtime under the current system. The Department of Labor estimates that this change will have a positive effect for more than 4 million middle-class workers.
What does this mean for you?
If you are a salaried employee making less than $913 per week you will be automatically eligible for overtime. Your employer may choose to:
- Pay you overtime.
- Limit your ability to work more than 40 hours. This would allow you to make the same amount of money while increasing your free time.
- Give you a raise. If you make just under the threshold amount, your employer may give you a raise that puts your base salary just over the threshold so that they do not have to pay you overtime.
What should you do?
No matter what approach your employer takes, you should keep your own record of your hours and check that against your pay stub to make sure they are compensating you for the correct amount of time at the correct rate. It is also a good idea to keep your own record of the vacation/sick days that you use and check that regularly against your employer’s records. This will help protect you against possible wage theft.
What is wage theft?
Wage theft is when an employer does not pay an employee everything they are owed for the time worked. The most common forms of wage theft are:
- non-payment of overtime
- not paying for all the hours worked
- not giving workers their last paycheck after a worker leaves a job
- not paying minimum wage
According to the Economic Policy Institute, wage theft costs American workers as much as $50 Billion per year.
What other rights should you be aware of?
You have the right to not be discriminated against in employment matters due to your race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. Some workers in New York State also receive special legal protections due to the nature of their work. These include:
Volunteer Firefighters and EMTs receive special protections under the New York State Workers’ Compensation laws.
Generally speaking, any injury sustained while performing your duties as a volunteer firefighter or EMT will be covered. Check out one of our previous blog posts on the subject for more information.
Construction workers in New York State are guaranteed a safe place to work
There are several state and federal laws that protect construction workers. One of these laws is New York Labor Law 200, which requires property owners and contractors to fix hazardous conditions and ensure safe work practices. This includes maintaining and storing all equipment to provide adequate protection for workers. The law protects both employees and people who frequently visit job sites.
New York Labor Law 240, also known as the Scaffold Law, is a pillar of workplace safety in the state of New York and covers workers who work at dangerous heights or are at risk of injury from falling objects. The Scaffold Law requires property owners, contractors, and employers to provide proper ladders, scaffolds, harnesses, and other equipment, holding them liable for injuries which result from improper or malfunctioning equipment.
New York Labor Law 241 sets safety regulations for many hazards faced by construction, demolition, and excavation workers. These include slipping and tripping hazards, injury from falling objects or hazardous openings, material storage and handling, demolition and disposal of debris, and more. Property owners and contractors are responsible for any violation, whether committed by their employees, a sub-contractor’s employees, or any other contractor.
If you believe that you have been a victim of wage theft or if you or a family member has been injured at work, please contact us today at 716-852-1888 for a free case evaluation.