A Look At Minimum Wage Laws

minimum wage graphic AP

The House voted to increase the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, bringing America's lowest-paid workers a crucial step closer to their first raise in a decade. The vote was 315-116, with more than 80 Republicans joining Democrats to pass it.

What Is Minimum Wage?
Minimum wage is the minimum hourly, daily or monthly wage which must be paid to employees or workers. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.

Currently, covered nonexempt workers are entitled to a minimum wage of not less than $5.15 an hour. Overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times their regular rates of pay is required after 40 hours of work in a workweek.


When Was The Last Time The Minimum Wage Was Raised?
The last time the federal minimum wage rose was in 1997. That's the longest stretch without an increase since the minimum wage was established in 1938. Inflation has eroded the minimum wage's buying power to the lowest level in about 50 years.


How Would The House Plan Affect Minimum Wage?
The bill would raise the wage floor in three steps. It would go to $5.85 an hour 60 days after signed into law by the president, to $6.55 an hour a year later, and to $7.25 an hour a year after that.


Is Extra Pay Required For Weekend Or Night Work?
Extra pay for working weekends or nights is a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee (or the employee's representative). The FLSA does not require extra pay for weekend or night work. However, the FLSA does require that covered, nonexempt workers be paid not less than time and one-half the employee's regular rate for time worked over 40 hours in a workweek.


Is Every Worker Covered By Minimum Wage?
The minimum wage law (the Fair Labor Standards Act) applies to employees of companies with revenues of at least $500,000 a year. It also applies to employees of smaller firms if the employees are engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. Also covered are employees of federal, state, or local government agencies, hospitals, and schools. The law generally applies to domestic workers.


Do Other Countries Have Minimum Wage Laws?
Most industrialized countries have laws setting a minimum wage, but these laws vary greatly by who is covered and how strictly the law is enforced. In some countries, the minimum wage is not universal for the whole country, but varies according to the industrial sector or the worker's age and gender.


To Learn More About Minimum Wage:
• Click here to read more about minimum wage.

• Click here to see the wages in specific states.

• You can see the minimum wages from 1955-2006 here.

  • Melissa McNamara

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