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Nassau closes living wage loophole

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Officials in Nassau announced changes Wednesday to close a loophole through which some service providers were dodging the county’s living wage law.

Nassau is “taking action to help working class families and hold accountable the companies we do business with,” County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement.

“The loophole we closed today allowed companies to appear smaller than they actually were to avoid paying their workers a living wage,” she added.

But now, with the rule change, Nassau’s living wage waiver review officer will “consider compensation received not only from the firm named in the waiver application, but also from ‘related entities,’” according to a county press release. This includes parent and subsidiary corporations or affiliates.

Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman said in a statement that by closing the loophole, the county is “protecting workers from contractors who try to game the system.”

And he had a message for would-be vendors.

“If you want to do business with Nassau County, you have to play by the rules, and closing this loophole will protect workers who deliver critical services to Nassau County residents,” he added

Originally enacted in 2007, Nassau’s living wage law was intended to raise the minimum wage for employees of most of the vendors doing business with the county. These employees were to earn a living wage, receive health benefits and paid time off.

With the new law signed Wednesday, county officials can now review the parent and subsidiary corporations of a vendor that has a contract with the county, when determining waiver eligibility requirements. Still, with the new law, contractors may be able to waive the living wage requirement in certain situations. These circumstances include a small wage gap between the highest and lowest paid employees or where there are instances that would result in a more than 10 percent increase in overall budget.

Since Aug. 1, 2018, the Living Wage Law is $16.41 an hour without health benefits or $14.27 per hour with health benefits. But as of Aug. 1, the rate will be adjusted up by a percentage equal to the change in the New York Metropolitan Area All Urban Index as established by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, according to the county.