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Work a split shift? You might deserve more pay.

Hourly wage earners in New York work hard, and many of them work split shifts. Under a special state law, some of these workers may be eligible for an extra hour’s pay, even if they aren’t working overtime. Whether you’re in this situation depends on a few factors, but if you are, your employer should pay you more.

New York And The Spread Of Hours Law

New York adopted the so-called “Spread of Hours” law in 2013, which says that any hourly employee whose workday takes place over more than 10 hours is entitled to an extra hour’s pay. The 10 hours includes any off-duty time, meal breaks and time between shifts.

For example, say you get to your job at 8 a.m. and work until noon. Your next shift doesn’t start until 4 p.m., and then you work until 8 p.m. The “spread” of your workday is 12 hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Under the law, you should receive payment for 9 hours of work, even though you only worked for 8 hours.

Another example: Your first shift starts at 9 a.m. and goes until 1 p.m. You take a one-hour lunch break and then work your second shift from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. Because your workday takes place over 9 hours in this case -- 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. -- you wouldn’t receive spread-of-hours pay.

Am I Eligible?

In general, hourly workers in New York who are eligible for overtime pay are also eligible for spread-of-hours pay. However, the industry in which you work will determine the exact circumstances in which you receive this extra reimbursement.

Industry-Specific Rules

Spread-of-hours pay applies to hourly workers across the entire hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurants and bars. It also applies regardless of your hourly wage.

The building service industry and farming are exempt from spread-of-hours pay.

In all other industries, the law requires spread-of-hours pay, but whether you get it is a little more complicated. Essentially, if your hourly wage is too far above the minimum wage in your city, you still might not get spread-of-hours pay, even if your workday starts and ends over a 10-hour period or greater. An employment attorney can double-check the calculation based on your schedule and hourly wage.

Most employers are ethical and pay their workers what they deserve, but not all of them do. If you’ve never heard of this provision of New York employment law, even though you’re working widely-spaced shifts, you might have a claim for unpaid wages. Check with your employer first. If you’re not satisfied with the answer, it might be time to explore legal options.

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