Overview: Federal minimum wage law requires that all nonexempt employees be paid at least $7.25 for every hour they work; this is the federal minimum wage. Twenty-six states have (or will soon have) even higher minimum wages.
Since about 97 percent of the American workforce earns more than the minimum wage, very few employers need to concern themselves with this baseline requirement. Nevertheless, an employer that makes agreed-upon deductions from an employee's pay – for example, deductions for cleaning uniforms – must be careful that the deductions do not bring the employee's wage below the applicable minimum rate.
To comply with minimum wage laws, an employer can apply certain payments – most notably, tips that wait staff, bartenders and other tipped employees receive for service, and the cost of board and lodging – toward its minimum wage obligations.
Also, minimum wage laws allow certain employees – including students, workers with disabilities, messengers, apprentices and student-learners – to be paid at subminimum wages below the normal rate.
Trends: To help employees keep pace with the rising cost of living, 14 states adjust (or will adjust) their minimum wage rates based on the rate of inflation. Lawmakers have introduced legislation that would do the same in other states, and at the federal level.
Author: Michael Cardman, Legal Editor
If Rhode Island's governor signs a new bill as expected, the minimum cash wage for tipped workers would increase from $2.89 to $3.39 on January 1, 2016, and to $3.89 on January 1, 2017.
Rhode Island's minimum wage will increase to $9.60 on January 1, 2016, under a bill signed into law by the governor on June 17, 2015.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Rhode Island employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to minimum wage.
Many states and municipalities have minimum wage requirements. This Quick Reference chart sets forth the state minimum wage rates for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. It also covers selected local minimum wage ordinances that apply to most or all employees who work within a particular jurisdiction.
The sponsors of new legislation said Rhode Island's minimum wage needed to keep pace with surrounding states like Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Emeryville, California, has passed a minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinance that takes effect July 1, 2015.
In addition to setting a minimum wage rate, the ordinance also establishes notice-posting requirements, new hire paperwork requirements and retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities.
HR guidance on complying with federal and state minimum wage laws.