• Compass WFS Legislative Updates

NYC Enacts Freelance Worker Protections

The Freelance Isn’t Free Act, Effective May 15th 2017, offers protection to all New York City residents who identify as freelance workers against underpayment and undue manipulation on behalf of their employers. A Freelance Worker is defined as any person or organization of one person not otherwise incorporated or employing a trade name that is hired or retained as an independent contractor to provide services for a period of time in exchange for compensation.

The act requires all freelance work to be written under signed contract at the time a hiring party retains services worth $800.00 or more. This contract must include the names of all parties involved, the value of contracted services, the rate and method of compensation, and what date payment must be issued or what mechanism will be used to determine that date.

Non-compliance with above freelance protections can result in the following:

  • Civil and criminal penalties when payments are made later than 30 days after the project has been completed or when payment is not in accordance with the contractual agreement.
  • Once services have begun, employers may not require that the freelance employee accept less that the contracted amount in order to be paid in a timely fashion.
  • Employers will be responsible for double damages and attorney fees if and when a case goes to court.

Not sure if you’re in compliance or if any of your employees are freelancers? Call our office to speak with an HR Professional to discuss any questions or concerns at 631.794.7400.

Annual W-4 Reminder

As 2016 comes to a close, we encourage you to remind your employees to review their W-4 information and submit a revise W-4 if they have any changes. Some reasons why employees should review their W-4 information include changes in withholding allowances, marital status, home address, name and to verify their Social Security number is correct.

While employees may update their W-4 any time during the year, employees whose withholding allowances have decreased or marital status has changed from “married” to “single” must provide their employer with a new W-4 within 10 days of the change.

Employees who claimed “Exempt” in 2016 have until February 15, 2017 to file an amended W-4. If the employee fails to provide a new W-4 by February 15, the employer will either:

– Use the marital status and number of allowances found on the most recent W-4 form that was submitted before the W-4 form claiming Exemption, or

– Treat the employee as if no W-4 was submitted and use Single Status with Zero allowances.

When an amended W-4 is submitted, it is a “Best Practice” to make the change for the employee on the next scheduled payroll. However, employers must enter the changes no later than the start of the 1st payroll period ending on or after the 30th day from the date you received the revised form.

If you have any questions about W-4 forms or payroll, please contact Compass to speak with one of our HR Business Partners.

FLSA Legal Update

The Department of Labor’s Overtime rule, which was set to go into effect December 1st has been blocked by a federal judge. This new rule would have raised the minimum salary for most exempt employees to $913 per week and would have automatically adjusted the threshold every three years beginning in 2020.

For now, employers do not need to implement changes by December 1st. If you have not already made changes to reclassify employees, you may want to postpone doing so at this time. However, if you have implemented changes and raised otherwise exempt employees’ salaries to meet the proposed $913 per week, consider leaving those changes in place.

It is important to note that this decision will be appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, hence there is a chance that the judge’s ruling can be reversed.

NYC Pre-Tax Transit Benefits

NYC Pre-Tax Transit Benefits – January 2016

On October 20, 2014, the New York City Council signed the Affordable Transit Act, regulating the transit benefits for the New York City area.

Effective January 1, 2016, the law requires private employers with 20 or more full time employees to provide a pretax payroll deduction for transit benefits to their employees. For purposes of this particular ordinance, “full time employees” are those who average 30 or more hours per week. The number of full time employees is determined by taking the average number of full time employees for the last three consecutive months. Employers at or exceeding 20 full time employees will be required to comply with this ordinance.

Employees who receive this benefit remain eligible throughout the duration of their employment, regardless of any change in the number of full time employees within their work place (this includes a workforce drop below 20).

Transit Benefits will reduce the cost of transportation for employees who work within the five boroughs, and reduce employers’ payroll taxes. Public employers with employees that are exempt from federal, state, and city payroll taxes are not required to provide transit benefits by this mandate. Unionized employers are exempt unless 20 of their full time employees are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

Employers have a six-month grace period to implement the new law. The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs is responsible for enforcing this law. Beginning July 1, 2016, a violation may be given to employers who fail to offer the transit benefit; this violation can range between $100 and $250. If the first violation is not remedied within 90 days, employers may face additional violations until they are in compliance.

While many employers in NYC already offer pretax transit benefits, the new local law will require that other private employers put a transit benefit program into place. Employers should assess the requirements of the benefits program, communicate with their employees and plan for payroll changes to be in compliance with the new law.

For more information visit: www.nyc.gov

Employers and business owners can contact Compass Workforce Solutions for help with compliance issues such as this and many, many more.  Speak with one of our HR Business Partners today at 631.794.7400.

New York State Minimum Wage Increase

New York State Minimum Wage Increase Effective December 31, 2015

Effective December 31, 2015 the basic minimum hourly wage will increase to $9.00 from $8.75. In the hospitality industry, the minimum wage for tipped employees increases to $7.50 with a tip allowance that meets or exceeds the basic minimum wage rate of $9.00/hour.

All employees, including hospitality workers, should be given a “Notice & Acknowledgement of Pay Rate & Payday Notice” before any change in their wages. The notices are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Haitian Creole. Employees must sign the notice and be given a copy of the notice. Employers must keep the original notice for 6 years. If you need assistance preparing the notices, please contact us.

Employers Beware: Employers who underpay their workers are required by the Department of Labor (DOL) to pay their employees the difference between the amounts already paid and the required minimum wage based on hours worked. Often, the DOL collects the funds without resorting to court action. However, an employer that violates the Minimum Wage Law is subject to criminal prosecution and penalties. Action may also be taken in civil court. The Commissioner of Labor may require an employer to pay: Minimum wage underpayments PLUS interest and civil penalties up to 200 percent of the unpaid wages.


Currently under review is the recommendation of a separate minimum wage rate for New York City. If and when the legislature enacts a different minimum wage for New York City, employers may have to make changes accordingly.

Please be sure to contact us for an updated minimum wage poster. Remember posters should be hung in a place easily visible to employees.

Employers and business owners can contact Compass Workforce Solutions for help with compliance issues such as this and many, many more.  Speak with one of our HR Business Partners today at 631.794.7400.

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