Wage Theft Protection Act Hurts Small Business; Repeal this Mandate

January 30, 2012

We learned some good and bad news about our state, according to the polls last week. New York received the unfortunate label last week of ranking second-to-last in the nation for business, according to The Tax Foundation's 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index. This is disappointing but not surprising. But we also received some good news in a poll: according to New Yorkers, the state is headed in the right direction for the first time in a decade. More than half of those polled said the state is headed in the right direction.

I want to keep that "right direction" movement going by improving the business climate. One way we can do so is by repealing the Wage Theft Protection Act. I sponsor legislation that will take this newly-created state mandate away from small businesses. This law was put in place during the 2010 legislative session, and though it may have been created with good intentions, it's redundant.

New York already has wage reporting requirements in place, and in most cases, those wages are recorded on weekly or biweekly pay stubs, which are provided to employees. This new mandate creates more paperwork for businesses, and additional reporting costs by requiring private sector businesses to produce annual notice to every employee. The law also requires employers to obtain written acknowledgement that every employee was informed of their wages. If most employees just look at their paystubs, this information is readily available. One local firm estimates this will cost thousands of dollars in hours producing forms, printing those forms and spending time ensuring the signatures have been collected. If a manufacturer has 300 employees, you can imagine the paperwork and time involved.

This act also increased the penalties for small-business owners. Failure to provide notice could result in a penalty of $50 per worker, per week, up to $2,500. The law is designed to protect workers from being short-changed by their employer; but our laws already protect workers, and it's often a case that the laws we already have are not enforced.

Though this bill to repeal the act does not solve all of our state's problems, it's an example of how New York has a reputation for getting in the way of business. We need to do just the opposite, and encourage employers to hire more workers, not create more costs for every worker hired. I've heard from a number of employers who have written to my office who do not believe this law is necessary. I'm hopeful that with enough voices the state will repeal this costly mandate for businesses.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling (315) 598-5185. You also can find me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.