Minimum Wage

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets a minimum wage to protect workers from employers who want to pay a wage that is unfairly low. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Under the FLSA, employers may not have to pay you minimum wage if you are a farm worker, seasonal worker, casual babysitter, or student worker in certain situations. If you work as a contractor or subcontractor who provides services to the federal government, the minimum wage is $10.35 per hour. If you are an  employee who is partially paid tips and performs work connected to the federal government, you must be paid a base cash wage of at least $7.25 per hour.

The New York State (NYS) and New York City (NYC) minimum wages are higher than the federal minimum wage:

  • In NYC, the minimum wage is $15.00 per hour.
  • In Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau Counties, the minimum wage is $13.00 per hour.
  • In the remainder of NYS, the minimum wage is $11.80 per hour.

Tips – Hospitality Industry

In all instances, the cash wage plus the tip credit must at least equal the New York minimum wage.

For food service workers: 

  • In NYC, the hourly cash wage is $10.00 plus a $5.00 tip credit, equal to the minimum wage.
  • In Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester, the hourly cash wage is $8.65 plus a $4.35 tip credit, equal to the minimum wage.
  • For the remainder of NYS, the hourly cash wage is $7.85 plus a $3.95 tip credit, equal to the minimum wage.

For the Fast Food Industry, there is no tip credit and the minimum wage is:

  • $15.00 per hour in NYC.
  • $13.75 per hour in the remainder of NYS. The hourly minimum wage will increase to $14.50 on December 31, 2020, and again to $15.00 on July 1, 2021.

For service employees at resort hotels:

  • In NYC, the hourly cash wage is $12.50 with a $2.50 tip credit, equal to the minimum wage, provided that the weekly average of hourly tips is $8.40 (the tip threshold).
  • In Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester, the hourly cash wage is $10.85 with a $2.15 tip credit, equal to the minimum wage, provided that the weekly average of hourly tips is $7.30 (the tip threshold).
  • For the remainder of NYS, the hourly cash wage is $9.85 with a $1.95 tip credit, equal to the minimum wage, provided that the weekly average of hourly tips is $6.60 (the tip threshold).

For service employees in restaurants and all-year hotels:

  • In NYC, the hourly cash wage is $12.50 with a $2.50 tip credit, equal to the minimum wage, provided that the weekly average of hourly tips is $3.25 (the tip threshold).
  • In Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester, the hourly cash wage is $10.85 with a $2.15 tip credit, equal to the minimum wage, provided that the weekly average of hourly tips is $2.80 (the tip threshold).
  • For the remainder of NYS, the hourly cash wage is $9.85 with a $1.95 tip credit, equal to the minimum wage, provided that the weekly average of hourly tips is $2.55 (the tip threshold).

Tips – All Other Industries Except Building Service

In all instances, the cash wage plus the tip credit must at least equal the New York minimum wage.

For service employees:

  • In NYC, the minimum wage is $15.00. The hourly cash wage is –
    • $11.35 plus a $3.65 tip credit, when the weekly average of hourly tips is at least $3.65; or
    • $12.75 plus a $2.25 tip credit, when the weekly average of hourly tips is at least $2.25, but less than $3.65.
  • In Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester, the minimum wage is $13.00. The hourly cash wage is –
    • $9.80 plus a $3.20 tip credit, when the weekly average of hourly tips is at least $3.20; or
    • $11.05 plus a $1.95 tip credit, when the weekly average of hourly tips is at least $1.95, but less than $3.20.
  • For the remainder of NYS, the minimum wage is $11.80. The hourly cash wage is –
    • $8.90 plus a $2.90 tip credit, when the weekly average of hourly tips is at least $2.90; or
    • $10.05 plus a $1.75 tip credit, when the weekly average of hourly tips is at least $1.75, but less than $2.90.

Ride-sharing, app-based or for-hire vehicle drivers who work in New York City for Uber, Lyft or Via, are entitled to earn a minimum gross pay of $26.51 per hour, but the companies are permitted to deduct certain expenses out of that hourly rate. After expenses are deducted, the minimum wage for such drivers cannot be less than $17.22 per hour. Drivers for these companies who operate wheel chair accessible vehicles are entitled to an even higher minimum wage. Drivers for these companies who make out-of-town trips are also entitled to a minimum compensation for return trips based upon time and/or mileage.

Also, employees in New York are entitled to meal breaks. For factory employees, 60 minutes for meals must be allowed between 11 AM and 2 PM and mercantile employees get 30 minutes between 11 AM and 2 PM. If a shift starts before 11 AM and ends after 7 PM, the employee gets an additional 20 minutes between 5 PM and 7 PM. If a shift starts between 1 PM and 6 AM, a factory employee gets 60 minutes, and a mercantile employee gets 45 minutes, in the middle of the shift.

You have the right to be paid for every hour you work. If your employer pays you less than the minimum wage, or does not pay you for every hour that you work, s/he is breaking the wage and hour laws. Your employer could be violating wage and hours laws by not counting certain time as work time, including:

  • time you work “off the clock,” before clocking in or after clocking out for the day
  • meal or rest breaks that you have to work through
  • required training programs and classes
  • certain travel time
  • waiting time that you must spend on the employer’s premises

Legal Editor: Steven T. Sledzik, January 2015 (updated June 2020)

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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