Working in hotels, restaurants, bars, catering and other businesses in the hospitality industry can mean working at all hours of the day and night. As a result, employees can and do get taken advantage of.
That’s why New York state’s Hospitality Industry Wage Order includes what’s known as the “spread of hours” rule. Under state law, non-exempt employees are entitled to receive one additional hour of pay if their total workday exceeds ten hours. That pay is to be “at the basic minimum hourly rate” for the particular city or other jurisdiction within New York.
What a ten-hour workday means
Note that the ten-hour “workday” includes meal and rest periods and, for those working a split shift, the time in between their shifts. That’s why it’s referred to as the “spread of hours.” It’s not the same thing as overtime pay and doesn’t count toward overtime. It’s additional pay you’re entitled to if you’ve worked over more than a ten-hour time period in one day.
According to the state, spread of hours pay is meant in part to incentivize employers to “put a brake on excessive hours.” It can also provide some additional compensation (albeit limited) to people who have to devote most of a day to work – even if it’s not in consecutive hours. Working a breakfast shift and then returning to work the dinner shift at a restaurant would be just one example.
It’s important to understand that spread of hours pay can’t be compensated by meal or lodging credits. It must be included with the employee’s pay.
Know your rights under the law when it comes to fair compensation
Most people don’t have the time or interest in keeping up with wage and hour laws. They assume their employers will pay them fairly. However, too many employers don’t fully understand the law either. This can lead to non-compliance.
Of course, other employers assume their employees won’t know the difference and will try to get around the law. Whatever the case, if you’re not being paid what you’re owed for your work and you haven’t been able to resolve the issue with your employer, it may be wise to seek legal guidance to protect your rights.