Topic of the Week Minimum Wage
Minimum wage means the lowest hourly pay that workers can receive. The federal minimum wage for covered, nonexempt employees is $7.25 an hour, effective July 24, 2009. In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 1.6 million workers (1.9 percent of all hourly paid workers in the U.S.) earned wages equal to or less than the federal minimum wage. Of these 1.6 million workers, 392,000 workers earned exactly the federal minimum wage and 1.2 million workers earned less than the federal minimum wage.
1. If my state or city's minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage, what is my employer required to pay me?
Where an employee is subject to both the state and federal minimum wage laws, or federal, state, and city minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to higher of the minimum wages. If you are not covered by the federal minimum wage laws, that does not mean that you are also exempt from your state minimum wage requirements.
2. Can my employer pay me less for certain hours or average my pay?
While your employer may pay you different rates for different kinds of work, the pay rates cannot be averaged to meet your employer's minimum wage obligations. Hourly employees must be paid minimum wage for all hours worked. For example, your employer could not pay you $6.50 for certain hours worked, even if for the rest of the hours worked, you were paid $8.00 per hour, making your average rate of pay higher than $7.25 per hour.