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 generally $7.25 per hour. Under the FLSA, employers may not have to pay you minimum wage if you are: farm worker, seasonal worker, casual babysitter, or student worker in certain situations. If you work as a contractor or subcontractor that 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.

New York State and New York City minimum wage is higher than the federal wage. For employees who work in New York City, the minimum wage is $12.00 per hour for employers with 10 or fewer employees, and $13.00 per hour for employers with 11 or more employees. For employees who work in Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau Counties, the minimum wage is $11.00 per hour. The rest of New York State’s minimum wage is $10.40 per hour.

For food services workers who receive tips, the hourly cash wage is $8.00, plus a $4.00 tip credit for  employers of 10 or less employes, and the hourly cash wage is $8.65, plus a $4.35 tip credit for  employers of 11 or more employees. In Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester, the case wage is $7.50 plus a $3.50 tip credit. For the remainder of New York State, it is a $7.50 cash wage with a $2.90 tip credit. The cash wage plus the tip credit must at least equal the New York minimum wage.

In the fast food industry, no tip credit is allowed. The minimum wage for employees in fast food restaurants in New York City, the minimum wage is $13.50. For fast food employees outside of New York City, the minimum wage is $11.75.

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 our 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 January 2018) 

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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