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The State and Federal Laws Regarding Minimum Wage

08th April 2010
By tb_chats in Employment Law
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The whole idea behind a federal minimum wage law was to put to an end the practice of sweatshops that hired women and children at what was considered slave wages. Later the focus became not so much sweatshops as simply giving the lowest end of the labor market a chance to be self sufficient and not have to rely on government subsidies to live. There are arguments both for and against these laws but it's a safe bet that they will not be appealed anytime soon.

Who Gets Minimum Wage?

Typically minimum wage is paid for the lowest skill sets. In theory that means the skills that produce the least get paid the least. There is a federal minimum law that sets the absolute minimum that a worker can be paid. That same law has exclusions for certain types of workers and certain industries. However as a general rule, no employer can pay less than the minimum with out applying for a certificate of exception.

States have the right to establish their own minimum wage rate providing that it is not less than the federal minimum wage, and many have. Obviously it cost more to live in certain parts of the country and as a result, wages in those areas are typically higher. California for example, is much more expensive place to live than say Mississippi. While federal minimum wage might be sufficient for Tupelo, it certainly would not be in Los Angeles. As a result, California has established it's own state minimum wage.

But even in California there are places more expensive than others and municipal governments have come up with their own form of minimum wage. While they do not have the power to mandate a minimum wage for every employer in their jurisdiction, they can set minimum wages or "living wages" for every contractor that deals with the municipality.

What's Your Rate

If you want to know what the minimum wage is in your locale, or in a state or city you might be thinking about relocating to, check with the state Department of Labor to see what the law is. Further you might want to check the City's website and see if they have a separate wage determination. This information may help you in deciding just where and who you'd like to work for.

This article is informational only, not legal advice.

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