New York Household Employment

Household employers need to comply with tax, wage, and labor laws that affect nannies, in-home senior caregivers, and other household employees. While federal laws cover employers in all states, there are also state- and city-specific regulations that employers must follow. Here’s what you need to know about New York household employment.

Minimum Wage

Household employees must be paid at least the highest of federal, state, or the applicable local minimum wage rate.

New York has various minimum wage rates depending on the location of work.

In New York City, the minimum wage is $15/hour for employers with 10 or fewer employees.

For Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties, it’s $13/hour with increases of $1/hour every year until it reaches $15/hour.

The rest of New York State has a minimum wage of $11.80/hour with increases of $1/hour every year until it reaches $15/hour.

Overtime

Household employees in New York are required to be paid at least time and a half for hours worked over 40 in a seven-day workweek. Overtime compensation is not required when work is performed on a holiday. While federal law exempts live-in employees from overtime requirements, New York requires live-in household workers to be paid at least time and a half for hours worked over 44 in a week.

13-Hour Rule

A household employee who is asked to work a 24-hour shift only needs to be paid for 13 of those hours as long as they are provided with eight hours for sleep and three hours for meal breaks. If the employee’s meal breaks are interrupted or if they do no get five uninterrupted hours of sleep, they must be paid for the entire break.

Learn more about New York’s 13-Hour Rule.

State Unemployment Tax & Rate

In New York, the new employer SUI (state unemployment insurance) rate is 3.125 percent and the re-employment services fund (RSF) rate is .075 percent for a total obligation of 3.2 percent on the first $11,600 of an employee’s wages.  Employers with previous employees may be subject to a different rate. This an employer-only tax.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Household employers in New York are required to have workers’ compensation coverage for any employee working 40 hours or more per week. This applies to live-in and live-out employees. Get a quote on workers’ compensation insurance.

Disability Benefits Insurance

New York is one of five states that require household employers to make additional employee withholdings for disability benefits insurance. This program provides short-term benefits to employees who are unable to work due to a non-work related illness or injury including pregnancy. Disability insurance may be purchased from any insurance company authorized to write disability benefits insurance in New York including the State Insurance Fund. You’re authorized to collect from your employee, through a payroll deduction, a contribution of 0.5 – one percent of wages paid, but not in excess of 60 cents per week. You can also make this contribution on behalf of your employee.

Learn more about complying with New York’s Disability Benefits Law.

GTM Payroll Services can manage your disability insurance coverage including employee withholdings. Call (800) 929-9213 for more information.

Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights

New York was the first state to pass a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, which took effect on November 29, 2010. The law covers full-time workers including immigrants regardless of their immigration status. Relatives and part-time workers like baby sitters aren’t included.

Under New York’s Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, household employees must receive:

  • An hourly pay rate of at least minimum wage
  • Overtime pay of at least time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 in a week (44 hours for live-in employees)
  • At least three paid days off after one year of employment with the same employer
  • At least one day of rest per week. Employees can agree to work on their day of rest at an overtime pay rate. Employers are encouraged to coincide the rest day with the employee’s day of worship (if they have one)
  • Written notice on work policies including sick leave, vacation, personal leave, holidays, hours of work, pay rate, overtime rate, and payday

The law also requires household employers to pay unemployment insurance, obtain workers’ compensation insurance, and acquire disability insurance.

Paid Family Leave

New York State employers – including household employers – are required to provide paid family leave (PFL) to their employees. Paid leave can be taken for various family or medical reasons including:

  • Bond with a newborn, adopted or foster-care child during the first 12 months after birth or placement
  • Care for a seriously ill family member
  • Address important needs related to a family member’s military service

Employees who work 40 or more hours a week and at least 30 days in a calendar year are covered. Full-time employees are eligible after 26 consecutive weeks of employment and part-time employees who work 20 hours or fewer per week are eligible after 175 working days (doesn’t need to be consecutive).

The program is paid for by employees through an additional payroll deduction. Or, as an employer, you can pay the cost on your employee’s behalf.

GTM Payroll Services can manage Paid Family Leave payroll deductions for household employers. Call (800) 929-9213 to get started.

Learn more about New York State’s Paid Family Leave.

Paid Safe and Sick Leave – New York City

New York City’s paid sick leave law requires household employers to provide their employees who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year with two paid days off to care for themselves or for close family members if they become ill. This is in addition to the three paid “days of rest” they already receive under state law and protects them from being fired or disciplined for taking sick time.

Employees can use their paid sick days after one year of employment and must be paid their hourly rate or no less than minimum wage.

Covered workers can also use earned safe and sick leave if they or a family member may be the victim of any act or threat of domestic violence, unwanted sexual contact, stalking, or human trafficking and they need to take actions necessary to restore the physical, psychological, or economic health or safety of themselves or family members or to protect those who associate or work with the employee.

Learn more about New York City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law.

Earned Sick Leave – Westchester County

Westchester County’s earned sick leave law applies to full- and part-time household employees who work at least 80 hours per year in the county. Employees can use sick leave for their own or a family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; care or treatment for injuries, illnesses, and health conditions; and/or preventative care. Employees can earn sick leave at a rate of one hour for every seven days worked, up to two days per calendar year. Sick leave is paid at the employee’s normal rate of pay.

Learn more about Westchester County’s Earned Sick Leave Law.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

Employers in New York State – including household employers – must provide annual sexual harassment prevention training for their employees and are required to establish a sexual harassment prevention policy.

New York State provides a model sexual harassment policy that employers can adopt as their own.

Domestic Violence Victim Leave

New York employers must grant leave for domestic violence victims. You must provide a reasonable amount of leave to:

  • Seek medical attention for injuries caused by domestic violence (including for a child victim);
  • Obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, program or rape crisis center as a result of domestic violence;
  • Obtain psychological counseling related to an incident of domestic violence (including for a child victim);
  • Participate in safety planning and take other actions to increase safety from future incidents of domestic violence, including temporary or permanent relocation; or
  • Obtain legal services, assist in the prosecution of the offense, or appear in court in relation to the incident of domestic violence.

An exception will be granted if you can show the leave will cause you undue hardship. Employees may need to provide advance notice of the leave or documentation of the leave when it is not foreseeable.

Failure to provide the leave as required will constitute an unlawful discriminatory practice and you could be subject to civil fines and penalties of up to $50,000, or $100,000 if the violation is found to be willful, wanton, or malicious. Victims may also be awarded back pay and damages. Employers must maintain the confidentiality of any information about an employee’s status as a victim of domestic violence, to the extent allowed by law.

Helpful Links

New York Department of Labor

New York Department of Taxation and Finance

Federal Regulations

All household employers need to follow certain federal regulations including:

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Classification Guidelines

  • Household workers are considered employees and not independent contractors. Learn more about misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
  • Household workers are also non-exempt employees, which means they receive overtime pay of at least time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 per workweek. Learn more about overtime pay.

FICA Taxes

Social Security and Medicare taxes are commonly referred to as FICA taxes. If you pay cash wages of $2,200 or more to any household employee in a calendar year, then you need to withhold and pay FICA taxes.

FICA taxes are 15.3 percent of cash wages. As an employer, you pay 7.65 percent (6.2 percent for Social Security and 1.45 percent for Medicare). Your employee’s share is also 7.65 percent, which you can withhold from their wages or choose to pay it yourself.

You don’t withhold or owe FICA taxes on wages you pay to your spouse, child under the age of 21, parent, or any employee under the age of 18 at any time during the calendar year.

Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)

If you pay a household employee total cash wages of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter, you’ll owe federal unemployment tax. This is an employer-only tax. FUTA is six percent of cash wages on the first $7,000 you pay an employee.

Mileage Reimbursement

If your employee uses their own car in the course of their work, you can reimburse them for mileage. For 2020, the IRS has set the optional standard mileage rate at 57.5 cents per mile driven. Paying mileage is not mandatory or you can reimburse your employee at a different rate. However, if the cost of mileage causes your employee to fall below minimum wage, then you need to reimburse them for mileage.

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