What does Minimum wage mean?
The minimum wage is the amount of wage which must be paid in the United States as determined by the United States Federal Government and state and local governments. The minimum wage has not increased since July of 2009 and is currently $7.25 per hour. Certain states and municipalities, however, have established minimum wages which are higher than the federal level. Currently Seattle, Washington, has the highest minimum wage and hopes to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which will be phased in over seven years, to be fully implemented by 2021.
Benefits of Minimum Wage
Proponents of a minimum wage argue workers who make at least the minimum wage are less likely to need public assistance like welfare, rent assistance, and food stamps, thereby decreasing the tax burden on other citizens in the state. They also argue having a higher minimum wage creates an incentive for workers to take certain jobs. Finally, proponents argue a minimum wage allows businesses to calculate their expenses for wages and eliminates the need for workers to negotiate their wages.
Disadvantages of Minimum Wages
Critics of establishing a minimum wage argue it reduces the pool of low wage jobs and imposes a limit to hiring cheap labor. For instance, if an employer wants work done, but the work will not generate enough revenue to justify paying minimum wage, the employer will simply not hire anyone to perform the work.
Additionally, research indicates that not only do employers cut back on the number of workers they hire and lower working hours if there is a minimum wage, some argue minimum wages can also hurt the minority groups they are trying to help because the employer is denied the option to set the wage and hire the type of worker they really need.
Finally, if wages are set artificially high the incentive for some worker to learn new
skills and advance to a better job is diminished. Critics of the minimum wage argue the money could be better spent helping these same workers increase their education and skills to move into a job which is skilled, rather than overpaying for low skilled work.
What if I am not paid minimum wage?
Employees who are not paid according to federally mandated standards may be able to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the United State Department of Labor, although there are some employees which may be exempt from some provisions of the law.
If you are covered by the FLSA and you are not receiving a minimum wage you will need to provide information that you have not been paid according to the required federal minimum standard of $7.25 per hour or you have not been paid overtime, which is one and a half times the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a work week. Questions may also be directed to the Wage and Hour Division Office at 1-866-487-9243.
Filing a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division
If you decide to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division you will not be charged for their services. All requests for investigation must be made within two years of the alleged wage violation. If the violation is willful you will have three years to file the complaint. If the claim is filed after the statute of limitations you will not be eligible for any back pay.
All discussions about wage violations are confidential, although if the investigation moves forward it may be necessary to notify your employer. Employees should document all information related to their pay, including start and end times for hours worked, and the amount paid. Keep in mind FLSA does not regulate vacation or holiday pay, sick pay, premiums for weekend or holiday work, pay raises, fringe benefits, discharge notices, meal times or rest periods.
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Category: Employment Law