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Bill would repeal annual employee wage notification

A bill that would elmininate a requirement that

A bill that would elmininate a requirement that employers to send annual wage notifications to all their employees is coming before Gov. Andrew Cuomo in early July 2014. In this photo on April 9, 2013, the governor talked with reporters in Manhattan. Credit: Getty Images / Mario Tama

The State Legislature recently voted to repeal a portion of a 3-year-old labor law that requires employers to send annual wage notifications to all their employees.

If Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signs the bill, it will eliminate a provision in the Wage Theft Prevention Act disliked by businesses that requires companies each year by Feb. 1 to send all their employees written notices detailing such things as their pay rates and regular payday.

Employers and business groups had decried the requirement as costly and onerous, and had fought to have it rolled back since the law took effect in April 2011.

"We absolutely have pushed for reform of the Wage Theft Act as it related to the annual notice since it was enacted a few years ago," said Mike Durant, New York State director of the National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business group.

Rob Basso, president of Advantage Payroll Services, a Freeport payroll-processing company that has 3,000 clients, mostly in the metro area, said he received a "significant number" of complaints about the annual requirement. "It was yet an additional item that they needed to worry about in the running of their business," Basso said.

Previous repeal efforts failed. But on June 19, the day before the last legislative session ended, both the Assembly and the Senate voted to remove the provision.

Companies still have to provide initial wage notifications to new hires. And they must provide all employees with appropriate pay stubs. Violators would face penalties that double to a maximum of $5,000.

"That was the compromise that was able to get broad-based support in both the Senate and the Assembly," said Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor).

The Business Council of New York State hailed the repeal of "the unnecessary and administratively burdensome annual notice."

Among unions, Westbury-based Local 1500 of the United Food and Commercial Workers said it supports the proposed revision to the legislation.

But not everyone is happy with the bill because of the increased penalties. Durant of the NFIB called the bill "flawed." Assemb. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) said he voted no in large part because of the NFIB's concerns.

But Subhash Viswanathan, a partner at the Syracuse-based law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King, who has written about the bill, said that big concerns over the stiffer fines may be unwarranted.

"If employers paid all the wages an employee was due, the fines don't kick in," he said.

State Sen. Diane J. Savino (D-Staten Island), the bill's Senate sponsor, believes Cuomo will sign it. "It has the support of labor and business," she said. "I can't imagine why he would not support this bill."

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