New York to phase in $15 an hour statewide minimum wage

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The US state of New York is to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The higher minimum wage, which was announced as part of the 2016-17 state budget, will be implemented in phases.

For organisations in New York City with 11 employees or more, the minimum wage will increase to $11 an hour at the end of 2016. It will then rise by a further $2 an hour each year until it reaches $15 an hour at the close of 2018.

Employers with fewer than 11 members of staff will be required to pay a minimum wage of $10.50 by the end of this year, which will then increase by $1.50 an hour on an annual basis before reaching $15 an hour by the end of 2019.

For employees in the counties of Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester, the minimum wage will rise to $10 at the end of 2016 and increase by $1 an hour each year before reaching $15 at the end of 2021.

Elsewhere in the state, the minimum wage will increase to $9.70 an hour by the end of this year and by a subsequent $0.70 each year to reach $12.50 by the end of 2020. The phased rise to $15 an hour will be determined following consultation between the director of the Division of Budget and the Department of Labor.

The increases are expected to impact approximately 2.3 million employees.

As part of the budget, it was also announced that a paid family leave programme will be implemented statewide.

Employees will be entitled to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a child, a family member with a serious health condition or to relieve family pressures if someone is called to active military service.

The family leave programme will be funded through employee payroll deduction, at no cost to employers.

Employees that have worked for an organisation for at least six months will be eligible for the programme, which will be gradually phased in from 2018.

It will begin by paying 50% of an employee’s average weekly wage and capped at 50% of the statewide average weekly wage, rising to 67% of an employee’s weekly average wage in 2021 and capped at 67% of the statewide average.

Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, said: “We believe that people who work hard should be able to earn a decent living and support a family with dignity. With a statewide $15 minimum wage and the nation’s only 12-week paid family leave programme, we are going to prove that the economy can and should work for all.”