The Journey to $15.00 Minimum Wage

Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP

On Friday, January 1, 2020, New Jersey’s minimum wage increased to $12.00 per hour, pursuant to the bill that had been executed by Governor Phil Murphy back in 2019. The long-term purpose of this law is to gradually increase the minimum wage by $1.00 per hour each year until it reaches $15.00 per hour on January 1, 2024. New Jersey is not alone in this pursuit. Indeed, as you can see below, though other states may follow different paths to arrive at the same result, many have enacted legislation with the same end goal of increasing their minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. 

California

California’s minimum wage increased to $14.00 per hour for employers with twenty-six (26) or more employees on January 1, 2021, as part of a 2017 wage increase schedule that will reach $15.00 per hour on January 1, 2022. For employers with twenty-five (25) or less employees, the minimum wage rose to $13.00 per hour on January 1, 2021 and is scheduled to reach $15.00 per hour on January 1, 2023.

Connecticut

Connecticut’s current minimum wage is $12.00 per hour, and will increase to $13.00 on August 1, 2021. Connecticut plans to have a $15.00 minimum wage by June 1, 2023.

Florida

Florida’s minimum wage increased from $8.56 per hour to $8.65 per hour on January 1, 2021 as part of the $15.00 Minimum Wage Initiative, which Floridians voted for on the ballot last November. The goal of this law, which passed with over 60% approval, is to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15.00 per hour by September 30, 2026.

Illinois

As of January 1, 2021, Illinois’ minimum wage increased to $11.00 per hour, and it will reach $15.00 per hour by January 1, 2025. For tipped workers, the minimum wage is $6.60 as of January 1, 2021 and will rise to $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2025. For “Youths,” which encompasses those under the age of eighteen (18) and those working less than 650 hours per calendar year, the minimum wage is $8.50 per hour as of January 1, 2021 and will increase to $13.00 per hour on January 1, 2025.

Maryland

Maryland’s minimum wage increased to $11.75 per hour on January 1, 2021. The State plans to implement a $15.00 minimum wage on January 1, 2025. For employers with fourteen (14) or fewer employees, the current minimum wage is $11.60 per hour as of January 1, 2021 and is scheduled to reach $15.00 per hour on July 1, 2026.

Massachusetts

On January 1, 2021, the minimum wage in Massachusetts increased to $13.50 per hour. The Commonwealth plans to have a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour by January 1, 2023. The minimum wage for tipped employees has reached $5.55 per hour as of January 1, 2021 and will increase gradually to reach $6.75 per hour by January 1, 2023.  

New York

As part of the 2016-2017 State Budget, the minimum wage has already reached $15.00 per hour in New York City for both large and small employers. As of December 31, 2020, Long Island and West Chester have reached a minimum wage of per hour, and the minimum wage has reached $12.50 per hour for the New York State workers. The timeframe for increasing the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour this year will depend upon percentages set by the Director of the Division of Budget and will be based on economic indices.

Virginia

Virginia’s current minimum wage is set at $7.25; however, the legislature has enacted a plan to achieve a minimum wage of $15.00 by January 1, 2026. The first increase in minimum wage is scheduled for May 1, 2021 and will rise to $9.50 per hour. This was originally planned to occur on January 1, 2021; however, the increase was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, employers in Virginia should continue to monitor the Commonwealth’s minimum wage laws.  

Conclusion

Many states are setting out to achieve a $15.00 per hour minimum wage, but they are taking different paths to accomplish this goal. In light of these differing routes, it is important for multi-state employers to keep abreast of the many different requirements and to consult with employment counsel in order to ensure compliance in each state where they operate.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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