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What is spread of hours pay?

In addition to other wage and hour protections, people in New York's service industry additionally enjoy the protection of the state's spread of hours law. The law is designed to provide payment to those whose shifts are spread over a certain number of hours, whether the hours worked are performed in one straight shift or divided between two in a split-shift situation.

New York's spread of hours law provides that employers must pay a person who is required to work a spread of hours exceeding ten hours of the total day an additional one hour at minimum wage. In other words, if a restaurant worker works a split shift, which is common in the restaurant industry, he or she may be entitled to payment for that additional hour.

If the start of a restaurant worker's shift starts at 9:00 am and lasts until 2:00 p.m. and the worker then comes back to work at 4:00 p.m., working the evening shift until 10:00 p.m., he or she would be entitled to payment for an additional hour. The law applies to all employees in the hospitality industry except for those who are salaried.

Service industry employers are sometimes notoriously bad about not paying their employees what they should be paid. When an employer routinely engages in such unfair pay practices, the affected workers may wish to file a class action lawsuit against the employer. If such a lawsuit is filed, workers may be able to recover damages to compensate them for the missed pay they should have received. Additionally, although many employees may be nervous about filing suit against their employers for unfair employment practices, employers are forbidden from retaliating against them for filing. If an employer does retaliate, the employer can potentially face additional damages because of their retaliatory actions.

Source: New York State Restaurant Association, "Understanding the Basics: Spread of Hours", December 09, 2014

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