New minimum wage for state


Staff Writer

Effective yesterday, Jan. 1, the new minimum wage for the state of Colorado has been raised to $8 per hour, or $4.98 for tipped employees — an increase of 22 cents compared to 2013.

Article XVIII, Section 15, of the Colorado Constitution requires the Colorado minimum wage to be adjusted annually for inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index used for Colorado.

In addition to state minimum wage requirements, there are also federal minimum wage requirements. If an employee is covered by both state and federal minimum wage laws, the law which provides a higher minimum wage or sets a higher standard shall apply.

Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25, so in Colorado the higher figure of $8 per hour applies. California, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island all have the same minimum wage as Colorado. At $9.32, Washington is the state with the highest minimum wage.

Thirty states have their minimum wage set at the same level as the federal minimum wage, or $7.25 per hour. At $6.15 per hour, Minnesota is the only state in the country with a lower minimum wage than the federal government.

Many cities have their own minimum wage. For example, while the minimum wage in New Mexico is $7.50, the minimum wage for Albuquerque is $8.60. California’s minimum wage is $8, but in San Francisco the minimum wage is $10.74.

Because of the inflation adjustment requirement of Article XVIII, Section 15, of the Colorado Constitution, Colorado Minimum Wage Order Number 30 means an employee is now entitled to the state minimum wage of $8 per hour or $4.98 per hour for tipped employees, effective Jan. 1, 2014. Some restrictions and exemptions may apply.

Employees or occupations exempt from all provisions of the order include administrative, executive/supervisor, professional, outside sales employees and elected officials and members of their staff.

Other exemptions include companions, casual babysitters and domestic employees employed by households or family members to perform duties in private residences, property managers, interstate drivers, driver helpers, loaders or mechanics of motor carriers, taxi cab drivers and volunteers.

Also exempt are students employed by sororities, fraternities, college clubs or dormitories and students employed in a work experience study program and employees working in laundries of charitable institutions which pay no wages to workers and inmates, or patient workers who work in institutional laundries.

Employers of “tipped employees” must pay a cash wage of at least $4.98 per hour if they claim a tip credit against their minimum hourly wage obligation. If an employee’s tips, combined with the employer’s cash wage of at least $4.98 per hour, do not equal the minimum hourly wage of $8, the employer must make up the difference in cash wages.

In addition to establishing the minimum wage, the order also defines overtime.

Employees shall be paid time and one-half of the regular rate of pay for any work in excess of either 40 hours per work week, 12 hours per work day, or twelve consecutive hours without regard to the starting and ending time of the work day, whichever calculation results in the greater payment of wages. Hours worked in two or more work weeks shall not be averaged for computation of overtime.

Performance of work in two or more positions at different pay rates for the same employer must be computed at the overtime rate based on the regular rate of pay for the position in which the overtime occurs, or at a weighted average of the rates for each position, as provided in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Normally, minors are not allowed to work overtime. However, in the event of a bonafide emergency situation, an employer may require minors, subject to the Colorado Youth Employment Opportunity Act, to work in excess of eight hours in a 24-hour period or in excess of 40 hours per week.

In these situations, the minors must be compensated at time and one-half the regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of eight hours in any 24-hour period, or for all work in excess of 40 hours per week. The employer must keep specific records to substantiate the existence of a bonafide emergency.

Employees of the ski industry performing duties directly related to ski area operations for downhill skiing or snowboarding, and those employees engaged in providing food and beverage services at on-mountain locations, are exempt from the 40-hour overtime requirement.

On the other hand, the daily overtime requirement for all hours worked in excess of 12 in a work day shall apply. This partial overtime exemption does not apply to ski area employees performing duties related to lodging.

Employees of the medical transportation industry who are scheduled to work 24-hour shifts are exempt from the 12-hour overtime requirement provided they receive overtime wages for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per work week.

A hospital or nursing home may seek an agreement with individual employees to pay overtime pursuant to the provisions of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s “8 and 80 rule.” This means employees are paid overtime for any work performed in excess of 80 hours in a 14-consecutive-day period and for any work in excess of eight hours per day.

Sales employees of retail or service industries paid on a commission basis, provided that 50 percent of their total earnings in a pay period are derived from commission sales, and their regular rate of pay is at least one and one-half times the minimum wage, are exempt from the overtime provision of the order. This exemption is only applicable for employees of retail or service employers who receive in excess of 75 percent of their annual dollar volume from retail or service sales.

According to the order, every Colorado employer is required to keep a true and accurate record for each employee. This record must contain the employee’s name, address, social security number, occupation and date of hire. If the employee is under 18, it must also contain his or her date of birth.

In addition, an employer must keep a daily record of all hours worked and a record of allowable credits and declared tips. The record must also specify regular rates of pay, gross wages earned, withholdings made and net amounts paid each pay period. An itemized earnings statement of this information must be provided to each employee each pay period. Such records shall be kept on file at least two years from date of entry.

Any person may register with the Colorado Division of Labor a written complaint that alleges a violation of the order within two years of the alleged violation.

The director of the Division of Labor has the power, in person or through any authorized representative, to inspect, examine and make excerpts from any book, reports, contracts, payrolls, documents, papers and other records of any employer that in any way pertain to the question of wages, and to require from any such employer a full and true statement of the wages paid.

An employee paid less than the legal minimum wage is entitled to recover the unpaid balance of the full amount of such minimum wage, together with costs of the suit if a civil action is required. Employers shall not threaten, coerce or discharge any employee because of participation in any investigation or hearing relating to the minimum wage act.

Any employer who individually or as an officer, agent or employee of a corporation pays an employee covered by this wage order less than the minimum wage, is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not less than $100 or more than $500 or imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 30 days or more than one year, or both.

Every employer subject to this wage order must display a wage order poster in an area frequented by employees where it may be easily read during the work day. If the work site or other conditions make this unpractical, the employer shall keep a copy of this wage order and make it available to employees upon request. You can download a current wage order poster here.