New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed legislation (S.B. 5572) that, effective March 13, 2024, will change the salary threshold governing various exemptions under Article 6 of the New York Labor Law ("NYLL").

Article 6 generally regulates the method and frequency of wage payments to employees in the State. See NYLL §§ 190, et seq. Some of those obligations are inapplicable to employees who serve in an "executive," "administrative," or "professional" capacity and are paid a designated minimum salary. Under the new statutory amendment, that minimum salary will rise to $1,300 per week from the $900 minimum, which has been in place since 2007.

The increased salary level will govern exempt status under three subdivisions of Article 6: § 190(7), concerning the definition of "clerical and other worker"; § 192(2), concerning the requirement to obtain advance consent to pay wages by direct deposit; and § 198-c(3), concerning criminal penalties for failure to pay benefits or other supplemental wages.

Because the change to Labor Law § 190(7) is definitional rather than substantive, it will have an indirect effect throughout Article 6. For example, NYLL § 191(d) requires that any "clerical and other worker" be paid "not less frequently than semi-monthly." Under the definition in § 190(7), "any person employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity" and earns a specified minimum weekly salary is not considered a "clerical and other worker." The amended definition in S.B. 5572 now raises that weekly salary threshold from $900 to $1,300, and thus potentially expands the number of employees required to be paid "not less frequently than semi-monthly."

In a statutory anomaly, the increased salary thresholds do not relate to the determination of exempt status with respect to the NYLL's minimum wage and overtime obligations. As we have previously reported (most recently here), those salary levels are currently $1,125/week ($58,500/year) in New York City and Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, and $1,064.25/week ($55,341/year) elsewhere in the State. Thus, certain individuals may be deemed exempt "executive," "administrative" or "professional" employees for purposes of some provisions of the Labor Law but not others, depending on their salary level. Unless and until the two salary levels are harmonized, employers will need to be aware of the two varying thresholds in order to stay in compliance with their Labor Law obligations.

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