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As if serving delicious meals, creating incredible guest experiences, and gaining a sustainable share of the market wasn’t difficult enough, restaurateurs in both the state and the city of New York must also focus on another complex task: navigating the many New York restaurant labor laws.
With labor laws on age, wage, overtime, and time off–many of which vary between New York State and New York City–it’s easy to overlook a law or two. However, these oversights are rarely excused and can cost your restaurant big time. In 2018, for example, the multiple-location Pret a Manger was forced to pay $875,000 in unpaid wages and overtime pay.
The sheer number of New York restaurant laws can threaten to overwhelm, but given the state’s population of nearly 20 million and its 50,000 restaurants, these laws provide a level of blanket protection for New York’s restaurant-goers and employees and must be adhered to.
So, feeling like you need a quick review of your state’s regulations? Read on for some of the need-to-know New York restaurant labor laws in this cheat sheet.
A quick disclaimer, though: this post is intended to provide a general overview of these laws and does not constitute official legal consultation. Seek the advice of legal counsel to learn about how these laws apply directly to your business, and to learn if any have been updated since this post’s publication.
Employee Pay Laws in New York
New York Minimum Wage
The minimum wage for restaurant workers in New York depends on role, location, the restaurant worked in, and what date you’re reading this. Additionally, the amount of employees who work for your restaurant can dictate your minimum wage, and in the eyes of New York law, your list of employees includes all employees on payroll for restaurants you own–even if they work at different locations.
As of this post’s publication (September 2019), the non-fast food restaurant hourly minimum wage is as follows:
- $15 for New York City restaurants employing 11 of more workers.
- $13.50 for New York City restaurants employing 10 or fewer workers.
- $12 for the remainder of downstate New York (classified as Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties).
- $11.10 for the remainder of New York State.
By the end of 2019, the following hourly minimum wages will be in place for non-fast food restaurants:
- $15 for restaurants employing 10 or fewer workers.
- $13 for the rest of downstate New York.
- $11.80 for the rest of New York State.
On top of this, fast food restaurants have a separate minimum wage law to abide by. According to the New York Department of Labor, a restaurant is considered a “fast food restaurant” if it:
“Primarily serves food or drinks, including coffee shops, juice bars, donut shops, and ice cream shops; and is part of a chain of 30 or more locations, including individually owned establishments associated with a brand that has 30 or more locations nationally.”
If your restaurant meets these criteria, here are the hourly minimum wages you must provide employees:
- $15 in New York City.
- $12.75 for the rest of New York State.
- $13.75 for the rest of New York State, effective 12/31/2019.
Restaurants in New York are also required to display the state Minimum Wage Poster– in addition to the restaurant-specific Deductions From Wages Poster and Gratuities Poster–in their restaurant. You can access these posters here.
New York Tipped Minimum Wage
Like most states, New York allows employers to pay servers a tip credit wage rather than the full minimum wage if the tips make up the difference. See the chart below to see how much servers and bartenders should be paid and how much you’ll have to chip into their paychecks yourself:
|Part of New York
|| Tip Credit
|New York City (11 or More Employees)
|New York City (10 or Fewer Employees)
|New York City (10 or Fewer Employees, Effective 12/31/19)
|Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties
|Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties (Effective 12/31/19)
|Remainder of New York State
|Remainder of New York State (Effective 12/31/19)