On January 1, 2010 the Kansas minimum wage will increase by $4.60 from $2.65 per hour to $7.25 per hour. The increase is one of the largest in recent memory, dwarfing the three 70-cent increases in the federal minimum wage between July 24, 2007 and July 24, 2009.
It is critical that every employer prominently display a Kansas minimum wage poster, to avoid penalties and fines.
This move puts the Kansas minimum wage on a par with the minimum wages of 28 states including Alaska, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
While having a minimum wage that is the same as the federal minimum wage may not seem like an astounding achievement, it represents a major change in philosophy for Kansas politicians.
The Kansas minimum wage is $2.65 per hour. Kansas currently has the lowest minimum wage of any state, although there are 5 states that do not have a minimum wage at all. They are Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and South Carolina.
This change affects most employers in Kansas.
The federal minimum wage is governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. FLSA covers employers with annual earnings of at least $500,000, and companies who engage in interstate commerce.
With advanced technology of the Internet, communicating via emails, and accepting credit cards for payment, the majority of Kansas businesses are engaged in interstate commerce. Even if the company doesn’t engage in interstate commerce, an individual employee within the company may, and would be covered by FLSA.
For example, a buyer for a retail store (more…)
Almost 87,000 Wal-Mart workers in Kansas and across the U.S. will get a total of $33 million in back pay and interest distributed among them, thanks to a settlement Wal-Mart agreed to in a suit brought by the U.S. Labor Department.
Wal-Mart was accused of violating U.S. and Kansas minimum wage laws. The Labor Department said Wal-Mart had tried to avoid paying overtime by calling the workers salaried managers. But in the settlement, it was agreed that they were what is referred to as “non-exempt salaried” workers. This means that even if they were salaried, their pay was below the ceiling, which would have exempted them from the protection of the law. And they did not have the kinds of decision-making roles that would also have exempted them.
Businesses have tried in the past to circumvent the regulation by declaring certain workers as salaried managers. Howard Johnson’s, for example, was found guilty in the 1980’s of hiring “assistant managers” in their stores who worked 80-hour weeks or more busing tables, doing dishes, or working as wait persons.
The settlement doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Wal-Mart’s troubles around payroll violations. Private lawsuits may still be instituted, and workers still have the right to file complaints with the Labor Department.
Both under Kansas minimum wage laws and federal laws, the criteria for exemption from the overtime regulation are very specific. In recent years, the guidelines have established that workers are protected by the regulation unless they make more than $455 a week or $23,660 a year. What’s more, even if they are paid more than that amount, they must meet certain clear definitions of management. They must have what is called significant decision-making authority in their store, division or department to lose their protection.
In the Wal-Mart case the argument was that the manager trainees were sometimes paid less than the required $23,600 yearly, they worked long hours, and they did not supervise employees.
As we know, the federal minimum wage bills are still in the Senate and the House, and the movement on those two bills is anything but certain at the moment. The two bills both call for a similar increase to the federal minimum wage, raising it from $5.15 per hour to $5.85 per hour after 60 days post the president’s signature, then to the $6.50 per hour level a year later, followed by another increase to $7.25 per hour a year later.
Where we left off, both the House and the Senate had put the minimum wage bills into military spending bills, along with a clause that would require troops to be pulled out of Iraq by a certain deadline. That clause there all but makes certain that these bills, if passed into a law, would get vetoed by the president, George Bush.
But would that mean that the federal minimum wage increase would be doomed? And what would that mean for Kansas employers in either case, if the federal minimum wage increase passed or did not pass. Well, for starters, as for that first question, the federal minimum wage increase is not doomed. Even if the president vetoes that military spending bill, the minimum wage would get repackaged probably, according to my sources, as either its own bill or in another bill.
As for the other questions, the Kansas minimum wage, as I said, is lower than the federal minimum wage, and currently only affects employers who do not have to follow the Fair Labor Standards Act. So when the federal minimum wage increase passes, or if it does pass, these same Kansas employers will still be able to pay the lower Kansas minimum wage. They would still not be liable to follow the Fair Labor Standards Act no matter what happens with the federal minimum wage.
What changes have taken place in the state of Kansas when it comes to the minimum wage? Well, to put it simply—no changes. The Kansas minimum wage remains one of the lowest, if not the lowest, in the entire country, at the minimum wage rate of $2.65 per hour. There are other states out there that have no state minimum wage of their own, but Kansas is on a different and important level all to its own because it has a state minimum wage lower than the federal minimum wage.
This state minimum wage in Kansas holds true for all employers in the state that do not have to follow the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which is the national law on wage and hour issues. Employers who have to follow the Fair Labor Standards Act are, in general, larger interstate employers, who either have to operations or sales in more than one state, or who bring in more than $500,000 per year in revenue.
There was some talk and movement earlier in the year in Kansas to consider a new minimum wage in the state, because according to my sources, there were folks in the state who were not too happy that Kansas has a lower state minimum wage than most every other state in the country. But those efforts did not lead to any legislative change.
And for Kansas employers, that means simply that they can continue to pay their employees throughout the year as they have been paying them in the past, and it means that Kansas employers do not need to go out and buy a new Kansas minimum wage labor law poster any time soon. As for the federal minimum wage, well, that is a different story and one will shall talk about now.