In the blink of an eye, 2018 is over and 2019 is here! Before we get too far into the New Year, here are 4 ways to have a great start to 2019!

1 – Don’t forget the wage increases across New York State

New York State has been moving toward a $15/hour pay rate for several years. It has finally arrived for large employers in New York City. As of 12/31/18, employers in New York City with 10 or more employees are required to pay a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour. Employers with 1-9 employees are required to pay a minimum wage of $13.50 per hour. (Next year, all NYC employers will be at the $15/hour target.)

New York State has allowed the other counties to move more slowly toward that goal. The counties immediately surrounding NYC – Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester – are moving at increases of $1/hour per year. For 2019, the minimum wage in those three counties is $12/hour. (It will be 2022 when $15/hour has arrived to Long Island and Westchester.)

The remainder of the state will have a minimum wage of $11.10 per hour.

Make sure you’re in compliance with the minimum wage rules.

2 – Don’t forget the weekly wage increase for overtime exemption requirement

As the minimum wage has increased, New York State has also been increasing the minimum weekly wage for employers to classify an employee as exempt from overtime pay regulations under the administrative and executive exemptions. This can have a great impact on employers as personnel moving from exempt to non-exempt status require tracking of hours and the payment of overtime. If you have any employee who – by virtue of this increase – is not considered non-exempt, contact us for help in determining your best course of action.

In New York City, large employers (10 or more employees) must pay at least $1,125 per week for an employee to be potentially exempt under the administrative or executive exemptions; small employers (1-9 employees) must pay at least $1,102.50 per week. The rate for Long Island and Westchester is $900 per week, and the remainder of the state has a rate of $832 per week.

The determination of whether an employee should be considered exempt or not is complex and the failure to properly classify an employee can be very costly to an employer. We can help.

3 – Update your books and records from 2018

If you own an entity, you can either own a business or a job. Here’s what I mean – if you own a business, it has value outside of you. Ultimately, one day, you can remove yourself from the business and it will continue. If you own a job, you must be in your seat at that job every day for the entity to have any value. Without you, it stops – which is very scary should you become sick, disabled or worse.

One of the easiest ways to begin creating value in your business is by keeping good corporate records. Corporate records are the road map of the company and it shows what you did, when you did it, why you did it and how you did it. These are especially helpful when you go to sell your company in the future, or invite others to invest in it.

4 – Review your client engagement letter / contract

A client once gave me his prior engagement letter for review. I asked him about how it came to be and it was fairly typical. He found a form from an online source, he shared it with his friend of college who was now a personal injury attorney, he made a few tweaks and started using it. Over the years,  he had his own changes when clients brought up objections. In the end, a Frankenstein-esque agreement remained, with bits from a lot of sources.

As I review it, I found myself laughing at the notice provision. This is the section of the agreement that tells how everyone should contact one another when there I a problem. In it, his clients were to send him a telegram. I don’t recall the last time a telegram has been used in business. While some days I feel old, I can assure you that throughout my career I have never once received a telegram. 

What’s the problem? Again, this is how parties formally notify one another that there is a problem. Proper notice can key off obligations such as restitution, interest, etc. There should be the ability to send it via overnight commercial carrier (e.g., FedEx, UPS), and some forms of notice even via email. Neither was possible under this antiquated contract.

That’s one silly example. There are far more pressing reasons to review your base agreement. Limits of liability, indemnification, warranties, governing law, and so much more need to be reviewed and taken care of. A contract exists to protect you against problems down the road; make your contract as solid as possible.

2019 and Beyond

These are simple steps that you can take to make your business better and stronger for 2019. If you need assistance with any or all of them, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help you BUILD your business!

Francine E. Love is the Founder & Managing Attorney at LOVE LAW FIRM, PLLC which dedicates its practice to serving entrepreneurs and business owners. The opinions expressed are those of the author. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice. 

Francine E. Love
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Founder and Managing Attorney at Love Law Firm, PLLC which dedicates its practice to New York business law
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