Adding to New York employers’ already daunting challenge of complying with the myriad federal and state employment-related documentation requirements, the State Assembly recently added another. As one of his last official acts as Governor of New York, David Paterson signed the Wage Theft Prevention Act (the “WTP Act”) in December 2010, and the law goes into effect on April 9. New York employers must act now to be prepared to comply with the new law.

Democrat Diane Savino, longtime union leader and former SEIU lobbyist, sponsored the Bill, which Senate Democrats described in a press release as enacted to protect “hard-working men and women from unscrupulous employers who steal their earnings by paying less than minimum wage, misclassifying them as independent contractors, forcing them to work off the clock and various other schemes.”

The WTP Act adds significant annual and follow-up notice requirements employers must provide to their employees.  Current law requires that employers give newly hired employees written notices detailing their pay days, pay rates, and if applicable, their overtime pay rates. The WTP Act requires that all employees get follow-up notices annually, on or before February 1, which must contain several additional pieces of information, such as the basis of the individual’s pay rate (hourly, shift, daily, weekly, piece, commission); the employer’s name; the physical address of the employer’s main office; the employer’s telephone number; and any other information the New York Labor Commissioner deems necessary. The notices must be in the employee’s primary language. The law also requires a 7-day advance notice of any pay changes, and it increases both civil remedies for retaliation and criminal penalties and fines for violations.