Practice Areas

Payroll Recordkeeping Requirements for New York Employers

This post is part of a new series that specifically discusses employment law issues for startups and small businesses operating in New York State and New York City.

When it comes to payroll records, both federal and New York State law are very specific about what information New York employers must maintain and for how long.

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must keep the following payroll records for each non-exempt worker:

  1. Employee’s full name and social security number;
  2. Address, including zip code;
  3. Birth date, if younger than 19;
  4. Sex and occupation;
  5. Time and day of week when employee’s workweek begins;
  6. Hours worked each day;
  7. Total hours worked each workweek;
  8. Basis on which employee’s wages are paid (e.g., “$15 per hour”, “$1,000 a week”, “piecework”);
  9. Regular hourly pay rate;
  10. Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings;
  11. Total overtime earnings for the workweek;
  12. All additions to or deductions from the employee’s wages;
  13. Total wages paid each pay period; and
  14. Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.

The FLSA requires no particular form for the records, only that the information be maintained.  These records, together with any collective bargaining agreements and sales/purchase records (showing the total dollar volume of sales or business and the total volume of goods purchased or received), must be retained for at least three years.

Under the FLSA, any records on which wage computations are based (i.e., time cards and piece work tickets, wage rate tables, work and time schedules, and records of additions to or deductions from wages) must be retained for two years.

New York State law requires that most employers keep weekly payroll records which show the following information for each employee:

  1. name and address;
  2. social security number;
  3. wage rate;
  4. the number of hours worked daily and weekly, including the time of arrival and departure of each employee working a split shift or spread of hours exceeding 10;
  5. when a piece-rate method of payment is used, the number of units produced daily and weekly (required for for-profit employers only);
  6. the amount of gross wages;
  7. deductions from gross wages;
  8. allowances, if any, claimed as part of the minimum wage;
  9. net wages paid; and
  10. student classification (required for for-profit employers only).

In addition, for each individual permitted to work as a staff counselor in a children’s camp, or in an executive, administrative or professional capacity, an employer’s records must show:

  1. name and address;
  2. social security number;
  3. description of occupation (required for for-profit employers only); and
  4. for individuals working in an executive or administrative capacity, total wages, and the value of allowances, if any, for each payroll period.

Further, for each individual for whom student status is claimed, an employer’s records shall contain a statement from the school which the student attends, indicating such student:

  1. is a student whose course of instruction is one leading to a degree, diploma or certificate; or
  2. is required to obtain supervised and directed vocational experience to fulfill curriculum requirements.

Note that New York State has different payroll recordkeeping requirements for the building service industry, hospitality industry and for farm workers.

Under New York State law, records must be preserved for six years.

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