Tomorrow's Hospitality A-Z – Navigating the future

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Read time: 4 minutes

New York is one of the few U.S. states to enact specific workplace rules for hospitality industry employers. To that end, the New York State Department of Labor has for decades used regulations known as “wage orders” to supplement employers’ statutory obligations under the New York Labor Law. These wage orders are industry-specific, covering everything from nonprofits to the building service industry. Among these regulations is one specific wage order that covers just the hospitality industry.

This wage order creates workplace-related obligations unique to the hospitality industry, which includes restaurants, hotels, catering and banquet halls, fast-food establishments, camps and membership clubs. These regulations govern minimum and overtime wage rates within the industry, gratuities, uniform maintenance pay, reimbursement for purchase or maintenance of required uniforms, spread of hours pay and credits for meals and lodging, among other things.

Perhaps most critically, the hospitality wage order sets forth increased minimum wage rates for tipped employees, as well as regulations pertaining to the handling of gratuities. These include regulations concerning so-called “tip credits,” which have been the subject of substantial litigation over the past few years. Tip credits are essentially exceptions to the general wage-and-hour laws that permit hospitality industry employers to, under certain circumstances, pay tipped employees less than the minimum wage, so long as the employee’s direct wages plus tips equal or exceed the minimum wage or overtime rate.

Key takeaways
  • The New York State Department of Labor’s Hospitality Industry Wage Order sets forth specific workplace rules that apply to hospitality industry employers.
  • Hospitality industry employers in the state may apply particular wage rates to employees and take tip credits from those wages, as well as pool tips for covered employees.
  • They must also provide certain disclaimers on documentation provided to customers or prospective customers as it pertains to administrative charges for banquet events.
  • Employers may have to pay extra wages to cover uniform purchase and maintenance costs.
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