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Minimum Wage Changes

Big changes are coming in Colorado for minimum wage employees and employers.  Some of those changes are already here.  In fact, employers should already be anticipating the effects of those changes and taking action to prepare for the new state of the law.  Coaty and Woods, P.C. is here to help you adapt to these changes and prepare for the future.

That future arrives in part on January 1, 2020.  House Bill 19-1210, which was signed into law, repeals the prohibition of local governments in Colorado establishing minimum wages different from the state minimum wage.  The practical effect of this is that cities, towns, and counties are now permitted to adopt minimum wages which are higher than the state minimum.  They are not permitted to adopt lower minimums.

Of course, there are complications to the law.  The higher minimum wages apply only to individuals performing four or more hours of work within the higher-wage jurisdiction and does not apply for through-travel, such as when an employee is only driving through a town or county on the way to another jurisdiction.  Also, this ability to set an increased minimum wage is limited to only 10% of local governments, unless the legislature determines otherwise.

The increase over the state minimum is also limited.  Any increase may take effect only on January first (or as otherwise determined by state minimum wage increases) and is limited to occurring annually at most.  While a local government jurisdiction could choose to increase its minimum wage each year, each increase would have to be determined and approved within one calendar year for it to take effect in the next.  We don’t usually see government move that quickly.  Local governments are similarly limited to increases of $1.75 or 15% (whichever is higher), until the newly determined wage is attained.  That means you won’t see an increase of $5/hour all at once.  There is a step up process in the law.

As a result of the one-year restriction on effective dates, the important part for employees and employers will occur on January 1, 2021 at the earliest.  That is the first date that minimum wage increases established by local governments can take effect and the first date on which employers will need to begin paying those higher wages.  But don’t wait until January to begin preparing for this change!  Local governments are not required to post or advertise or otherwise make employers aware that their minimum wage has increased over the state minimum.  Employers of minimum wage employees should take careful note of proposed wage increase in those jurisdictions in which their employees spend time.  Minimum wage employees who spend time working in multiple jurisdictions should also make themselves aware of minimum wage increase.  The new law provides stiff penalties for failures to comply.

If you are an employee or an employer anticipating the effect of these changes, call Coaty and Woods, P.C. today for the legal assistance you need.  We’re ready to get you ready.