Monday, December 27, 2010

Minimum Wage Laws

Many, many of our Pennsylvania workers' compensation clients also have wage law questions. These laws determine what employers can give as minimum wages and the hours that are set. These laws control how many hours an employee can work during the week as well as over time wages and breaks, etc. The laws can be very confusing given the many categories of employees and how the laws apply to each category. The following is a basic primer on minimum wage law, including Federal and State. I thank Attorney Darryl Parker, who is a Seattle employment lawyer, for some of this information.

Federal minimum wage is currently set at $7.25 an hour, with some states individual minimum wage set at higher or lower or the same as the Federal limit. Minimum wage laws are very confusing for both employers and employees alike, and is different from state to state, but that does not give a business an excuse for failing to properly pay its employees. I believe that with coherent information on how these laws work, everybody will be able to have a better understanding of the minimum wage. In this article, I will address some of the most common concerns on minimum wage.

Who has to be paid the minimum wage? The vast majority of employees fall under the umbrella of minimum wage laws. There are, however, a few types of employees that do not have to be paid minimum wage. Students working internships fall under this category. As long as the internship provides an academic experience, the student can receive compensation in the form of experience and school credit instead of money. There are also certain types of contract employees that may establish rates as they see fit with whoever is hiring them. These rates do not have to be at the minimum wage level. It is also important to note that the minimum wage is meant for people that are 16 years and older. This does not prevent 14 and 15 year olds from working, though. Their minimum wage is legally set to 85% of the normal minimum wage.

How is the minimum wage calculated? First, it should be noted that there is a Federal minimum wage and a State minimum wage. Employers are subject to abide by whichever number is higher. In Pennsylvania, the state level is the same as the the Federal level, and has been for a while. Because of this, businesses are required to pay their employees at least $7.25 an hour.

Can employers count tips in their calculation of minimum wage? Some states have a lower minimum wage for employees that make money off of tips, but Washington is not one of them. Valet parkers, waiters and anybody else who gets tips as a part of their job must still be paid the minimum wage by the business that employs them.

What can I do if my employer is not paying me minimum wage? If you are not being paid the minimum wage despite working a job that requires your employer to do so, then you should seek legal representation as soon as possible. The minimum wage is meant to protect employees and allow them to live on a reasonable wage. When employers do not abide by these rules, the employee should speak with an experienced employment lawyer about what they need to do to take legal action.

For more wage information, please see this quick reference guide. As always, if you have any questions, please call us for a free consultation.

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