Effective January 1, 2006, the minimum wage in New York for non-exempt employees, other than food service workers receiving tips, increased from $6.00 to $6.75 (a 12.5% increase), pursuant to the Empire State Wage Act of 2004 (the "Empire Act"). Effective January 1, 2007, the minimum wage in New York will increase to $7.15. Besides these significant increases, New York employers must be aware that the rise in the hourly rate also results in an increase in the overtime rate that they must pay minimum wage workers (generally calculated at 1.5 times the hourly rate).

The Empire Act also increases the minimum hourly wage for food service workers in New York who receive tips ("Tipped Workers"). Effective January 1, 2006, the minimum wage for Tipped Workers in New York increased from $3.85 to $4.35 (a 13% increase). Effective January 1, 2007, the minimum wage for Tipped Workers in New York will increase to $4.60.

For ease of reference, the following chart summarizes New York’s new minimum wage levels:

New York State Minimum Wage


January 1, 2006

January 1, 2007

Non-Exempt Employees (other than Food Service Workers Receiving Tips)



Food Service Workers
Receiving Tips



New York employers must conspicuously post New York State’s "Attention Employees Minimum Wage Information" poster, reflecting the new 2006 minimum wage, in their workplace. The required poster may be downloaded from the New York State Department of Labor’s website at:

Furthermore, every New York employer must notify its employees in writing or by publicly posting the employer’s policy on sick leave, vacation, personal leave, and hours, in accordance with section 195(5) of the New State Labor Law. In addition, pursuant to section 198-d of the New York State Labor Law, employers engaged in the sale or service of food or beverages in New York must post copies of sections 193 and 196-d of the New York State Labor Law, which concern illegal deductions from wages and tips by employers.

Employers should use the requirement to post a new New York minimum wage poster as an opportunity to check that all of their required workplace postings are up-to-date. In particular, employers should make sure that they have met the notice posting requirements of new section 4334 of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, as amended, 38 U.S.C. § 4334, which became effective on March 10, 2005, and about which Thelen Reid & Priest LLP issued a news alert in March 2005.

The minimum wages in states bordering New York are $5.15 in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, $6.75 in Massachusetts, $7.00 in Vermont, and $7.10 in Connecticut. For further information about the Empire Act, other wage and hour issues, and required workplace postings, and for assistance in obtaining the required posters, please feel free to contact any partner in Thelen Reid & Priest LLP’s Labor and Employment Department.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.