With Governor Ed Lamont pledging to sign it into law, Connecticut will become the latest state to pass a $15.00 per hour minimum wage bill joining, among other states, its Northeast neighbors New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, in doing so.

Under the Connecticut law, the state’s current minimum wage of $10.10 per hour will rise to $11.00 per hour on October 1, 2019; to $12.00 per hour on September 1, 2020; to $13.00 per hour on August 1, 2021; to $14.00 per hour on July 1, 2022; and finally to $15.00 per hour on June 1, 2023. On January 1 of each year thereafter, the minimum wage will be adjusted by the percent change in the federal Employment Cost Index (ECI) for all civilian workers’ salaries and wages for the one-year period ending on June 30 of the previous year.

The new law also freezes at their current levels the sub-minimum hourly cash wage that hospitality employers must pay employees who customarily receive tips. That sub-minimum cash wage is $6.38 per hour for hotel and restaurant staff and $8.23 per hour for bartenders. Thus, to the extent that a tipped employee’s combination of minimum cash wages and tips fails to meet the standard hourly minimum wages for a given week, the employer will have to make up the difference. Finally, the previous law allowed employers to pay a lower “training wage” for learners and beginners, as well as a “youth wage” for employees under the age of 18, at a rate of no less than 85% of the standard minimum wage for the first 90 days of their employment. The new law eliminates the training wage, while retaining the youth wage for employees under age 18, unless such minors are emancipated.

At the federal level, meanwhile, a bill introduced by Democratic leaders at the beginning of 2019, to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15.00 per hour, has gained little traction, while Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta recently testified before a Senate budget committee that he does not believe an increase in the federal minimum ($7.25 since 2009) is appropriate at this time.

Jackson Lewis will continue to monitor these and other wage and hour issues. If you have any questions, please contact the Jackson Lewis attorney(s) with whom you regularly work.