April 2011 saw the passage of the New York Wage Theft Protection Act (WTPA), which is similar to other statutes recently enacted in California, New Mexico, Maryland, and Illinois. HR and benefits decision-makers need to be prepared to respond to the legislation and understand how to comply with it.

Do you have an action plan for complying with WTPA by February 1? While April 2011 saw the passage of the WTPA, New York employers now face implementation of the new, stringent documentation requirements. Employers must provide detailed notice to employees on rates of pay, allowances, basis of wage payment and more. The act requires that notices be delivered for employees’ signature on these delivery dates:

  • Upon hire
  • Annually, between January 1 and February 1 starting in 2012
  • If there is a change in position and/or pay

What is the potential impact to employers from not taking action? Broader fines — small paperwork violations = up to $2,500/employee; retaliatory activity against employee complaints = up to $20,000, plus possible criminal penalties.
Employers need an action plan for the Wage Theft Prevention Act. Start by choosing the notice you will use, being careful to include all the new law’s required elements. Use a template offered by the State Department of Labor or create your own.

Now you must decide how to deliver the notice to each employee on time. Sending notices electronically can ease the burden. A proper electronic signature solution can help you ensure guaranteed receipt and review, as well as awareness of legal significance. And, the benefits of electronically signed documents are many: they save time, storage space, and postage costs; cannot be damaged or lost; are easy to track and access at any time; and automatically create a court-admissible audit trail.

In addition to written notices, the WTPA outlines three additional areas that employers must comply with:

  • All payroll records — including signed acknowledgements — to be kept and maintained by employers
  • Wage statements distributed to employees weekly
  • Enhanced rules prohibiting retaliation against any employee who makes a complaint

Employers need to study and review the WTPA, both in order to comply, and avoid fines. Engaging a lawyer to assure a full understanding of the act may be advisable.
Moyle is chief legal officer and vice president of legal and corporate affairs at DocuSign.

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