Allow us to pat ourselves on the back for a moment. Prognosticating from 2013 into the future, we accurately predicted that in 2014 the Seattle Seahawks would win the Super Bowl and that the public would continue to strongly support minimum wage increases and paid sick leave laws. (Please politely ignore our Portland Trailblazers NBA championship prediction.)
This year voters in five states overwhelmingly supported an increased minimum wage, while voters in Massachusetts and three New Jersey and California cities adopted paid sick leave. These states and cities join a growing trend of support for “living wages” and paid sick leave laws. Earlier this year, for instance, Seattle approved a minimum wage of $15 per hour, while Portland implemented its paid sick leave law and California became the second of now three states to give its employees paid sick leave on a statewide basis (see our posts on Portland’s law here, and California’s law).
Not to be left out of these issues that have strong popular support, President Obama issued an executive order earlier this year that raised the minimum wage for federal contractors. He has also pushed to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.
Although federal action on the minimum wage seems unlikely at this time, the 2014 election results show that states and municipalities will not wait for the federal government to lead. As a result, employers should keep abreast of the action at the state and local levels. Employers should also remember that state minimum wage laws may even apply to their exempt employees. (California employers, we’re looking at you.) Check in with your friendly employment law attorney to make sure you’re following the ever-changing laws of wage and hour.
Stay tuned for our predictions for 2015…
Our law clerk Ryan Kunkel was extraordinarily helpful in putting this post together.