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August 8, 2011

Maragos: Enforcement of Living Wage Law Paying Off

2010 audit results show most employees are being paid correctly

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos released the 2010 Living Wage Annual Report today which shows 124 employees were underpaid only $14,158. In past years the Comptroller’s Office found hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to employees who contract with the County.

"The Living Wage Law was created to protect hard working individuals who provide crucial services throughout the County and it is working,” Comptroller Maragos said. “My Office will continue to ensure compliance with the Law which recently increased to $14.61 per hour (without benefits) on August 1st.”

2010 Living Wage audit fieldwork focused on follow-up audits of personal care aide (“PCA”) service providers with 2010 billings to New York State of approximately $81.8 million. The PCAs provide assistance to Medicaid recipients in their homes to avoid the more costly option of institutionalizing the patients.  The audits focused on follow-up audits of PCAs in 2010 because of the large numbers of employees determined to have been underpaid in previous audits.  Audits of other agencies contracting with the County were also performed.

The Comptroller’s Office completed four follow-up audits of PCA service providers and three audits of CDPAP service providers in 2010.  As a result, six Living Wage audit reports were issued in 2010 and one in March of 2011.  Violations were identified in the reports; the majority concerned failures to pay the hourly wage rates required by the Law or non-compliance with the Law’s requirement to grant workers paid days off or payment in lieu of paid days off.

The number of violations identified in our audits declined by 76.6% from 530 to 124 and the amounts the affected employees were shortchanged decreased materially by 94.9% from $281,790 to $14,158.  Four of the seven audits completed in 2010 were follow-up audits, conducted to ensure that the service providers had taken corrective action to address previously noted errors and deficiencies.  These results demonstrate that significant improvement has occurred. 

The Nassau County Living Wage Law was enacted by the Nassau County Legislature in 2006 to raise the minimum wage of County employees and those working for most of its contractors. The Comptroller’s Office is responsible for monitoring compliance with the Law, and the Law requires that the Comptroller report annually to the County Executive and the County Legislature summarizing and assessing the implementation of and compliance with the Law during the preceding year. The Living Wage is currently $14.61 an hour without health benefits or $12.90 with health benefits. This rate will stay in effect until August 1, 2012, when it will increase based upon the CPI Index.

Since the inception of the Living Wage Unit in 2007 through December 31, 2010, the Comptroller’s Office has released Living Wage audit reports for 16 different contractors. These audits found that contractors underpaid their employees by $433,545 in wages and compensated days off, affecting 964 employees.

For more information on the Nassau County Living Wage Law visit our website at http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/Comptroller/LivingWage/index.html

  PDF File Living Wage Law 2010 Annual Report