Living Wage Report identifies more than $56K in underpaid wages, uncompensated time off in 2019

Robert Pelaez
Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman released the county's annual Living Wage Report last week. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

This year’s Nassau County Living Wage Report, released by Comptroller Jack Schnirman last week, identified 72 employees throughout the county who received underpaid wages and uncompensated time off worth more than $56,000 in 2019.

“Now more than ever, people need a living wage to make ends meet here on Long Island, and that’s why during these challenging times, it’s even more critical to look out for them and hold contractors accountable,” Schnirman said in a news release sent out by his office.

The annual report highlights the work conducted by the comptroller’s office and the office’s Living Wage Advisory Board to ensure contractors doing work for Nassau County are properly compensating their employees. The release said the comptroller’s office performs audits and responds to employee complaints and inquiries to ensure they remain compliant with the Living Wage Law.

The county’s Living Wage Law was put in place in 2007 to increase the minimum wage of employees of “most vendors with County service contracts.” Since 2007, according to the release, the comptroller’s office released 46 living wage audit reports that encompassed 37 separate contractors.  These reports identified a total of more than $1.4 million in underpaid wages and uncompensated time in more than 1,800 instances, according to the release.

In 2019, according to the release, the comptroller’s office and County Executive Laura Curran signed new living wage rules that allow the county to review the parent company and subsidiaries of a vendor with a county contract to ensure no contractor can evade paying the living wage. 

Schnirman said the advisory board has met regularly throughout the year despite the difficulties presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Aug. 1, Schnirman said, the living wage increased to $17.06 per hour for employees who do not have health benefits.  For employees with health benefits, according to the release, the amount increased to $14.68 per hour.

Schnirman also announced that the advisory board will host a virtual food drive to highlight the work of local organizations that support those who have difficulties purchasing food on a regular basis such as Island Harvest and Long Island Cares.

“These essential workers kept our region operating day after day when many of us were quarantined at home, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for all they do,” Schnirman said. “To honor their heroic contributions to our region’s struggle with COVID-19, and in recognition that many of these critical workers struggle with food insecurity, this food drive initiative is in support of them.” 

“As a Board, our commitment to supporting all of Nassau County’s workers extends beyond just what’s written in statute and we will be hosting a food drive to support those who are facing food insecurity,” John Durso, the  Living Wage Advisory Board chairman, said. “We appreciate the Nassau County Comptroller’s Office, the organizations and unions that comprise our Board and all those who will be donating over the next few weeks.”

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