In my younger days, before becoming a lawyer, I was a cook in a seafood restaurant. It paid the bills, but to be frank, it was a terrible job.
Of all my issues with the job, the worst part was that the hours were so long. 10-hour days; 12-hour days; once an 18-hour day. I wasn’t always even paid for this time – on occasion, I would come to work in the morning to prep, would punch out for the lunch shift, and then punch back in and work the dinner rush.
It could be 72 and sunny outside, but I wouldn’t be able to enjoy a minute of it, because I was stuck in a hot, dark kitchen, preparing food that nobody really wants to eat and smelling like fish
Here in NY, however, the powers-that-be came up with solutions for just this type of problem: “spread-of-hours” wages and “split shift” wages.
A “spread-of-hours” is defined as the time between the moment you are required to be at work to the moment you are permitted to go home for the day, regardless of any breaks taken during the day. Whenever an employee working minimum wage works a “spread-of-hours” that exceeds 10 hours in a day, they are entitled to one more hour of pay at the minimum wage.
You are also entitled to an additional hour of pay at the minimum wage whenever you work a “split shift”, defined in NY as a shift in which your working hours are not consecutive. The law does not define how long an interruption in your consecutive hours must be to qualify, but a lunch break of one hour or less does not count. Your split shift does not need to be 10 hours or more, but when it is, you will still only get the one hour of additional pay.
Once again, “spread-of-hours” and “split shift” wages are only for workers making minimum wage. But, there is an exception for anybody working in the hospitality industry (i.e. restaurants and hotels). For employees in this industry, you are entitled to “spread-of-hours” wages at the minimum wage regardless of your rate of pay. However, hospitality workers are not entitled to “split shift” wages.
So, using my history as an example, if I came in to prep for the day at 9am; punched out at 11am for the lunch rush; and then came back and worked 4pm-8pm for the dinner rush – my total “spread-of-hours” would be from 9am – 8 pm, or 11 hours long. While I was paid above the minimum wage, because I worked in the hospitality industry, I would be entitled to an additional hour of minimum wage based solely on my spread-of-hours exceeding 10 hours and not as a “split shift”, even though that kind of shift would also normally qualify.
It may not sound like much, but that extra hour of pay can really build up. If you work four 10+ hour days each week, with the current $15.00/hour minimum wage in NYC, that amounts to $60.00/week missing from your paycheck.
Could you use $60.00 more each week in your paycheck?