The minimum wage was enacted in 1938 as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The first minimum wage was .25 an hour.
Federal Minimum Wage Rate
Effective July 24, 2009, the federal Minimum Wage rose to $7.25 an hour for covered non-exempt employees.
State Minimum Wage Rates
Some states pay a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum. For example, the minimum wage in California is $8.00. Here is a list of current state minimum wage rates you can use to get information on the minimum wage in your location.
If an employee is subject to both the state and federal minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to the higher of the two minimum wages.
There are some employees that can be paid at rates below the hourly minimum wage. Those employees are permitted to be paid at rate called a submininum wage.
Exceptions to Minimum Wage - Tips
An employer of an employer who receives tips is required to pay $2.13 an hour in wages if that amount plus the tips received equals at least the federal minimum wage, the employee retains all tips and the employee customarily and regularly receives more than $30 a month in tips. If an employee's tips combined with the employer's direct wages of at least $2.13 an hour do not equal the federal minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference.
Exceptions to Minimum Wage - Young Workers
A minimum wage of $4.25 per hour applies to young workers under the age of 20 during their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with an employer, as long as their work does not displace other workers. After 90 consecutive days of employment or the employee reaches 20 years of age, whichever comes first, the employee must receive a minimum wage of $5.85 per hour.
More Exceptions to Minimum Wage
Employees hired for certain jobs or assigned certain duties are exempt from minimum wage. Here's a list of minimum wage exemptions.
If your employer is paying you less than the minimum wage visit the Compliance Section of the US Department of Labor Employment Standards Administration Wage and Hour Division for information on how to proceed.
The Department of Labor has extensive information on the minimum wage, including questions and answers, laws and regulations:
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