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What’s in store for NY labor law in 2014?

Happy New Year!

Now that the ball has dropped in Times Square, the confetti has been cleaned up, and the grapes have all been eaten, what else is there to look forward to in 2014? Well, depending on your employment situation, 2014 may be the start of an increase or decrease in income.

The end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 has ushered in revisions to the New York State minimum wage, unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation. Here are some of the important changes in New York labor law:

Minimum Wage: On December 31, 2013 the minimum wage in New York increased from $7.25 to $8.00. This increase was the first in a series of three annual changes. The minimum wage will increase from $8.00 to $8.75 on December 31, 2014 and then again from $8.75 to $9.00 on December 31, 2015.

Unemployment Insurance:

Benefits Increase – Beginning October 6, 2014, the minimum weekly unemployment insurance benefits will increase from $64 to $100. Likewise, beginning October 6, 2014, the maximum weekly unemployment insurance benefits will increase from $405 to $420 and will continue to increase thereafter.

Qualifications – Starting January 1, 2014, if the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) determines that you receive severance within 30 days after the employment relationship ends and the severance pay is greater than the maximum benefit rate, you will not be able to collect unemployment benefits until the severance pay is exhausted. If you receive a lump-sum severance payment, then the DOL will determine how many weeks of regular wages the severance would cover and disqualify you up to that amount.

Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) – All New York employers pay a FUTA tax based on the number of individuals they employ within the state.  The tax rate is based on the employer’s experience rating, and is assessed only on the first $8,500 of each employee’s earnings.  Starting on January 1, 2014, the first $10,300 of each employee’s earnings will be subject to the FUTA tax.  This figure gradually rises every year so that by 2026, the FUTA tax will be based on the first $13,000 of each employee’s earnings.

Workers’ Compensation: New York employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance or have a self-insured program. In addition to those premiums, they pay a surcharge to New York State. Starting January 1, 2014, the surcharges will decrease from 18.8% to 13.8%.

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