Monday, January 14, 2019

Remember the New Minimum Wage Rules (And Don’t Forget Local Ordinances While You’re At It)

There is never a shortage of changes in employment law.  By now, Minnesota employers should be aware that Minnesota’s minimum-wage rates changed on January 1, 2019.  For 2019, the state’s minimum wage is $9.86 an hour for large employers and $8.04 an hour for smaller employers.  As you may recall, large employers are those with annual gross revenues of $500,000 or more. 

Remember, also, that your Minnesota posting needs to be updated. The revised poster pack can be found online at and printed. For federal government contractors, don’t forget that many of you must now pay a minimum wage of $10.60 (see here). 

In addition, while most Minnesota employers should be aware of these changes, it seems like a good time to remind readers not to forget local laws and the importance of local engagement.  Because the divided Congress has not and is unlikely to pass any major changes to the federal minimum wage or other federal employment laws, municipalities are increasingly regulating matters once almost exclusively regulated by federal or state government.  While there has been no change in the federal minimum wage for nearly a decade, the Wall Street Journal reports that, this year, at least 19 states and 21 cities have increased their required minimum wage.  Also, while training on sexual harassment is a good idea for all employers, some states – such as New York and California – make it mandatory. 

Minnesota cities have joined the local regulation movement, with Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and other Minnesota cities having waded into employment regulation.  As we’ve discussed in prior posts (see here, here, and here), Minneapolis and St. Paul have both passed $15 per hour minimum wage laws and mandatory sick leave ordinances.  On January 1, 2019, Duluth’s paid sick leave ordinance became effective.  Now, employers there with 5 or more employees must provide employees with one hour of sick and safe leave for every 50 hours worked. 
As local laws with different standards proliferate, employers need to ensure they comply with all applicable regulations in each of their jurisdictions.  Businesses need to stay engaged to be aware of proposed local rules and to proactively impact the outcome of such proposals.

As the regulatory landscape becomes more complex and dispersed, there are an increasing number of regulators.  State and federal trade associations remain important, but they cannot offer resources in every local area. Engagement of public officials by their own constituents is often one of the most effective, and sometimes the only, way to influence policy decisions.  Whatever their beliefs, officials want their constituents to succeed, and local business can help lawmakers understand the impact of their proposed policies. Also, whether or not your preferences are enacted, engagement will at least make you aware of applicable local laws, an increasingly difficult task.

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