Wage & Hour Issues
Classification of Employees
Many employers are under the mistaken impression that simply paying an employee on a salary basis makes that employee exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements.
Salary is only one part of the determination. In order to be exempt, the employee in question must also perform exempt duties.
- Overview: Exempt versus Non-Exempt Employees
- Connecticut Laws on Exempt/Non-Exempt Employees
- Exempt/Non-Exempt Worksheet for Executives or Managers
Minimum Wage, Overtime, Breaks, & Travel Time
Connecticut’s minimum wage increased from $10.10 per hour to $11 on October 1, 2019, with future increases scheduled as follows:
- September 1, 2020: $12
- August 1, 2021: $13
- July 1, 2022: $14
- June 1, 2023: $15
Any increases after Jan. 1, 2024 will be tied to the employment cost index, a quarterly metric created by the U.S. Bureau of Labor that details changes in labor costs across the country.
Employment regulations applicable to minors are usually grouped into two brackets, 14-15 and 16-17.
Minors aged 14 and over may work in agriculture, but 14-15 year-olds are subject to restrictions on the nature of farm work and equipment they can work with, as explained in this U.S. Labor Department fact sheet.
Based on the revised minimum wage law passed by the state legislature in 2019, the subminimum wage previously applicable to minors working as learners or beginners, or in agricultural or government work, is replaced with a new subminimum training wage that may be paid minors under 18 years old in any job for the first 90 days of employment.
The subminimum wage may be 85% of the applicable minimum wage, but no less than $10.10 per hour.
Under the 2019 minimum wage law, an employer’s minimum wage obligations for employees who customarily receive tips is frozen at $6.38 for hotel and restaurant staff, and $8.23 for bartenders, with the difference up to the minimum wage to be made up in tips.
At the current minimum wage of $11.00 an hour, employers must pay hotel and restaurant staff no less than $6.38, plus an allowable tip credit of $4.62 (totals $11.00). Bartenders must be paid a minimum wage of no less than $8.23, plus an allowable tip credit of $2.77.
As the minimum wage increases in subsequent years, the amount of allowable tip credit will correspondingly increase to make up the difference between the employer’s share (frozen at the $6.38 and $8.23 for hotel and restaurant staff and bartenders, respectively) and the new minimum wage.
Federal minimum wage. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. In February 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13658, Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors, to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for all workers on Federal construction and service contracts as of January 1 2015.
That order also gives the U.S. Secretary of Labor the authority to set the minimum wage for all workers on Federal contracts from January 1 2016 and annually after that date.
Overtime. Connecticut and federal law require employers to pay overtime (at 1 1/2 times the employee’s regular rate of pay) to non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in the workweek.
Meal periods and other breaks. Under Connecticut law, no person shall be required to work for seven and one-half or more consecutive hours without a period of at least thirty consecutive minutes for a meal.
Travel time. An employer is generally not required to pay an employee for commuting between home and work. It does not matter whether the employee works at a fixed location or travels to a different job site each day.
However, the rules governing payment to non-exempt employees while traveling on business are confusing. Federal and state regulations sometimes conflict, and courts issue inconsistent rulings.
Employment of Minors
- Checklist: Employment of Minors
- FAQ: Employment of Minors
- FAQ: Minimum Wage for Minors
- Permitted and Prohibited Places of Employment, Time & Hour Restrictions, & Exemptions
- Working Papers Manual (includes certificates, forms, and procedures for employing minors)
- Fact Sheet: Promoting Young Worker Safety in Connecticut
Prevailing Wage Laws
Connecticut’s prevailing wage law applies to each contract for the construction, remodeling, refinishing, refurbishing, rehabilitation, alteration, or repair of any public works project by the state or its agents, or by any political subdivision of the state.
It requires covered employers to pay a prevailing rate, consisting of a base rate and a fringe benefit rate which may be paid in cash or benefits, to covered employees.
In addition, contracts or agreements with the state or any state agent for the provision of food, building, property, or equipment services shall have standard wage rates determined by the state labor commissioner.
These rates only affect those contracts or agreements more than $49,999.00. However, any employer that pays the state for a franchise to provide food preparation or service shall pay the standard wage rates regardless of costs.
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