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Help Wanted: Holidays don't mean that payday also takes a holiday 

A worker asks if an employer can legally postpone a Tuesday payday when a holiday falls on a Monday; an employment lawyer says "no."  

State laws detail when workers must be paid,

State laws detail when workers must be paid, depending on the industries that employ them. Photo Credit: Getty Images / iStockphoto / scene26

DEAR CARRIE: I am hoping you can answer a question regarding employers' obligation to pay employees on their regularly scheduled payday. Our payday is Tuesday.  But if a federal holiday falls on a Monday, is our employer still required to pay us on Tuesday or does the payday get postponed because of the holiday? — Holiday Trumps Payday?

DEAR HOLIDAY: You still have to be paid by no later than your regular payday.  

“The holiday does not change when wages are due,” said employment attorney Howard Wexler, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw in Manhattan.

What’s more, state laws detail when workers must be paid, depending on the industries that employ them.

“Under New York law, wages for manual workers must be paid weekly and not later than seven calendar days after the end of the week in which the wages are earned,” said Wexler, quoting state law. “The applicable regulations do not extend the seven-calendar-day time period based on a holiday falling within the seven-day time period.”

Manual workers are employees who spend more than 25 percent of their working time engaged in physical labor, Wexler said.

For many other workers in the private sector, including clerical workers, their wages must be paid according to the terms of their employment but not less than twice a month, he said.

Some employers pay employees earlier when a holiday falls on the actual payday. 

Even if an employer mails a paycheck, the company must do so in a timely fashion, the state Labor Department says.  

“Employees must receive their paychecks in the time specified in Section 191" of state labor law, the department’s website says. “Therefore, employers must allow sufficient time for the mail to be delivered to the employee to avoid violations.”

Here are some exceptions to the laws: The frequency-of-payment regulations don’t cover government workers, the Labor Department says.

 And the New York frequency-of-pay statute does not apply to exempt employees who work in an executive, administrative, or professional capacity and earn more than $900 a week, Wexler said.  

But charter and private schools and not-for-profit corporations are covered, the Labor Department says.

DEAR CARRIE: A local company hired me in 2000. I left in 2004. I was rehired in 2005, less than a year after I left. When I rejoined the company, I was informed that I had lost all my benefits such as my pension and vacation time based on my previous employment. Even though I was considered a new hire, the company gave me back my old employee ID and acknowledged my prior years of service. But it refuses to acknowledge the benefits that correspond to those years. Does New York have any laws that would make it illegal for employers to consider employees a new hire if they were rehired within a certain timeframe? — Back, Sort Of

DEAR BACK:  It really seems as if your company has taken a split-personality approach to your second go-round. Essentially your question is about benefits. And companies can set the terms for the benefits they offer. They don’t have to offer them, so when they do, they can decide what the terms are, barring a union or employment contract.  

It’s trickier with a pension, and I assume you are talking about a defined benefit pension, which pays you a certain amount when you retire, based on your years of service. The question there is whether you are vested in those benefits. Once you are vested, that right can’t be taken away.

The company can freeze the plan, but you would still be entitled to whatever amount you were owed based on the frozen pension.

Your employer may be telling you that you aren’t entitled to that pension because you left before you became vested. Some plans often vest after seven years, others after 10.

To find out if you are vested call the Employee Benefits Security Administration at 866-444-3272.

Go to bit.ly/LIpayday for more on state law and paydays.

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