Ringing in the New Year with a Host of New State Minimum Wage Laws


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While 2014 marked a year of significant hikes in minimum wages across the country, 2015 will be no different. Leading up to all these increases were employee protests across the country and in specific industries, and apparently President Obama agreed, first by mentioning the issue in his 2014 State of the Union Address, and then subsequently issuing an executive order in February 2014, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for federal contract workers. (Congress held out and did not move to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 in 2014, but with the 2016 election cycle we may see something on this later this year in the fall.)

Though employers always need to be aware of changes in minimum wage laws in the locales where they operate, almost half of the states raised their state minimum wages, effective January 1, 2015:

  • Alaska: $8.75 per hour (effective February 24, 2015)
  • Arizona: $8.05 per hour (with tipped employees getting a minimum cash wage boost to $5.05 per hour)
  • Arkansas: $7.50 per hour
  • Colorado: $8.23 per hour
  • Connecticut: $9.15 per hour
  • Florida: $8.05 per hour (with tipped employees getting a minimum cash wage boost to $5.03 per hour)
  • Hawaii: $7.75 per hour
  • Maryland: $8.00 per hour (with another increase to $8.25 per hour set to go into effect on July 1, 2015)
  • Massachusetts: $9.00 per hour (with tipped employees getting a minimum cash wage boost to $3.00 per hour)
  • Missouri: $7.65 per hour (with tipped employees getting a minimum cash wage boost to $3.83 per hour)Montana: $8.05 per hour (for businesses with annual gross sales of $110,000 or more; for businesses with gross sales less than $110,000, the minimum wage stays at $4.00 per hour)
  • Nebraska: $8.00 per hour
  • New Jersey: $8.38 per hour
  • New York: $8.75 per hour (effective December 31, 2014)Ohio: $8.10 per hour (for workers 16 and older who work for employers grossing at least $297,000 in receipts; tipped employees also received a minimum cash wage raise to $4.05 per hour)
  • Oregon: $9.25 per hour
  • Rhode Island: $9.00 per hour
  • South Dakota: $8.50 per hour (with tipped employees getting a minimum cash wage raise to $4.25 per hour)
  • Vermont: $9.15 per hour (with tipped employees getting a minimum cash wage boost to $4.58 per hour)
  • Washington: $9.47 per hour
  • West Virginia: $8.00 per hour (effective December 31, 2014 and another increase to $8.75 per hour set to be effective December 31, 2015; in addition, tipped employees will receive a minimum cash wage boost to $2.40 per hour)

For an overall look at all the states and their current minimum wage requirements, consult the Department of Labor’s map of the states here.

In light of the new rates, employers in states impacted should audit their payroll practices in all of these jurisdictions to make sure that employees are being properly paid. Also, when minimum wages change, old Labor Law posters may be out of date, and employers should make sure that current posters are properly posted in each applicable jurisdiction (multiple companies sell these and they are also available in most jurisdictions for free off of the web.) And finally, while employers are verifying that these mandates are correct and up-to-date, they also should review employee exempt statuses and payroll practices to make sure that employees are not misclassified and that employees are otherwise being properly paid for all hours worked. This last task may require some involvement of local counsel in order to be certain that in addition to being cognizant of increased minimum wages, their employees are clearly and legally classified by their exempt or non-exempt status.

Hilary Atkins
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Posted In: Legal

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