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Fate of Illinois Minimum Wage in Hands of Voters…Kind Of

Following other cities and states, Illinois will be including a question on this November’s ballot on whether the current minimum wage, $8.25 per hour, should be raised to $10.  The outcome of the vote is non-binding but will likely impact the ongoing arguments to increase the minimum wage that have bandied about the Illinois Legislature for months.  Minimum wage ballot votes have become increasingly more common in the last two years in the wake of the low-wage movement that has spread across the country.  Some votes, like the Illinois vote, are merely advisory while others are binding.

In 2013, New Jersey voters approved a constitutional amendment to increase minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 and index it to inflation.  Also in 2013, voters in Sea-Tac, Washington approved an increase in minimum wage from $9.32, the state minimum wage at that time, to $15.  This year, Chicago voters recommended in a non-binding advisory measure, an increase in the City minimum wage from $8.25, the state-wide minimum wage, to $15.  This November, Oakland, California voters will be weighing in on whether minimum wage should increase from $9, the state’s minimum wage, to $12.25.  This measure is in line with other California cities like San Jose, which increased its minimum wage by a 2012 vote and San Francisco, which did the same beginning in 2004.  There are similar initiatives going on in other states and cities including Nebraska.

Employers should be aware that municipalities are weighing in on minimum wage issues as well as other labor and employment issues like sick leave (New York City, Jersey City, and Newark) and criminal background checks (Philadelphia).  Employers should ensure they are abiding by any labor and employment-related ordinances in cities where they do business.  Beware, the trend is only growing!

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with local, state, and federal employment laws including wage and hour laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.