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Know Your Rights - Are You Being Paid At Least the Minimum?

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

Know your rights! Are you being paid at least the legal minimum wage? What is the legal minimum wage for your area? These are important questions and the answers can make a BIG difference. Whether you're currently employed or you're looking for a job, knowing your rights about your wages is very important! Let's get started.

Minimum wage is the lowest legal amount that an employer can pay their staff for work. The US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division is responsible for enforcing the nation's labor-related federal laws including supporting minimum wage. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) “…establishes the 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”. (Source: US Department of Labor website) As of January 1st, 2020, the Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. (Source: US Department of Labor website) Even though we have federal laws for minimum wage, the actual wage amount can vary greatly depending on which city and/or state you live in. The map below shows the different minimum wage laws that exist in each US state.

IMAGE SOURCE: US Department of Labor website

As you can see, not every state has its own minimum wage laws. Check out the US Department of Labor's website to view an interactive map to find more details about the current laws in your own state. If a state's minimum wage is higher than the federal standard, then the state's wage rate applies. If a state's minimum wage is lower than the federal standard then the federal wage rate applies.

In addition to regular minimum wage, there is also a legal sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.As of May 2020, the Federal standard for the tipped minimum wage is $2.13 per hour.(Source: Economic Policy Institute website) This is important information because there are many jobs where employees receive some, most, or all of their income from tips! Just some common tip-based jobs include restaurant servers, hosts, bartenders, delivery drivers, baristas, ride-share drivers and valet staff. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) website has additional details for each state's minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for tipped earners.

IMAGE SOURCE: Economic Policy Institute website

The interactive map on the EPI website quickly shows whether there is a difference in the state's minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for tipped earners and also lists any recent major changes to the minimum wage laws in that state.

In summary, it's important for you to be aware of what rights you have in regards to minimum wage. When you're better informed, you'll be more empowered to go after what you want and what you deserve. You can use this information that you've learned to help you during your job search and especially when negotiating your pay. Know your rights to ensure that you get paid fairly!

Next Steps:

* Educate yourself by reviewing the current federal minimum wage for your state.

* Know your rights and talk with your employer if you feel you are being paid less than what you should be.

* Review this website for additional resources from the US Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division.

Also Read:

* Know Your Rights - Illegal Interview Questions

* Know Your Options - More Than Just Salary

* Know Your Company - Before Negotiating

Stay tuned for more advice and tips from That Purple Book! Connect with That Purple Book across social media @ThatPurpleBook

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