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December 21st, 2015
Year-end Compliance: NYC Requires Certain Employers to Offer Transit Benefits
New York City's Commuter Benefits Law takes effect on January 1, 2016. Under the law, for-profit and nonprofit employers with 20 or more full-time non-union employees working in New York City must offer their full-time employees the opportunity to use pre-tax income to purchase qualified transportation fringe benefits. (See Appendix A for a list of mass transit providers.) These offers must be made by January 1, 2016, or within four weeks after an employee starts full-time work, whichever is later.
You do not have to have a bricks-and-mortar office in New York City to fall within the scope of the new law. Employers located outside of New York City or even in other states whose employees work in New York City may have to comply as well.
The law provides employers with a six-month grace period--from January 1, 2016 until July 1, 2016--before the Department of Consumer Affairs ("DCA") is authorized to seek penalties. After June 30, 2016, employers will have an opportunity to correct any violation of the Commuter Benefits Law within 90 days before any penalty may be imposed. The DCA may fine employers between $100 and $250 for the first violation of the law if the employer does not cure the violation within 90 days. If the violation is not cured after the first fine is imposed, an additional fine of $250 may be issued after every additional 30-day period of noncompliance.
The new law requires employers to keep records demonstrating that each eligible full-time employee was offered the opportunity to use pre-tax income to purchase transit benefits, and indicate whether the employee accepted or declined the offer. Employers may use the form available on the DCA website nyc.gov/commuterbenefits to document compliance. The law requires employers to keep records for two years.
If you have questions about the new Commuter Benefits Law, or about other employment law matters, please contact Wendy Stryker at (212) 705 4838 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Gavin McElroy at (212) 826 5541 or email@example.com, or any other member of the Frankfurt Kurnit Executive Compensation & Employment Group.
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