On behalf of Sayer Regan & Thayer of Sayer Regan & Thayer, LLP on Wednesday, November 7, 2018.

Remember the 1990s, when minimum wage was just five bucks an hour? Or, go back further to the early 1970s when it was just a buck and a half. It’s come a long way in Rhode Island, keeping pace with the cost of living and increasing through the years to rest (at least for the time being) at $10.10 per hour. It will increase another 40 cents on Jan. 1, 2019 to $10.50. The push is on to have the Rhode Island minimum wage raised to $15 by 2022. The tipped wage is at $3.89 right now.

It’s been several years since Rhode Island had a minimum wage hike. The last time it was raised was in 2014 when it went from $7.40 to $7.75 but before that, it hadn’t been raised since 2007.

In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker recently approved a new law that will increase the minimum wage and require paid leave for employees. The minimum wage will increase from $11 to $12 come Jan. 1, 2019, with the plan to increase each year until it reaches $15 in 2023. The tipped employee minimum wage is set at $3.75, with a plan to increase that rate to $6.75.
In addition to the minimum wage increase, employers must provide employees with 12 weeks of paid family leave and up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave come 2021. The law specifies that employees can’t take more than 26 combined weeks of paid leave in a single year.
Both Rhode Island and Massachusetts minimum wages are higher than the current federal minimum wage of $7.25, which is set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

While there are some exemptions as to minimum wage requirements, the law is clear about the type of work that may be exempt. Those whose employers are paying them less than the state’s minimum wage may be entitled to back pay. Even the employers of undocumented workers must adhere to the FLSA requirements. Failure to do so can result in legal action.

These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.