Ask The Lawyer, Minimum Wage Increase?

QUESTION: I heard some talk that the minimum wage was going to be increased to $10, but I haven’t heard anything about it recently. I run a (very) small business, and want to make sure I’m on the right side of the law.

ANSWER: Under a ballot petition circulated by the nonprofit group Michigan One Fair Wage, the minimum wage in the state would have risen to $10 (from $9.25) in 2019, and would continue to rise until it hit $12.00 in January 2022.

But that didn’t happen.

Although the petition gained enough signatures to be placed on the November 2018 ballot, it never made it there: In September, the Michigan Legislature adopted the proposal, but then revised it in November before voting on the amended bill and presenting it to the governor last month. The law, as passed, still requires an increase in the minimum wage – up to $9.45 per hour in 2019 – but the speed at which it will rise in the future has been slowed down. Now, the minimum wage is not set to hit $12/hour until 2030.

If the proposal had appeared on the November ballot and won voters’ approval, a three-fourths majority of the legislature would have been required to amend it. By adopting the proposal themselves, Republican legislators – who control both the state House and Senate — were able to revise the proposal with a simple majority. While proponents of the original proposal have accused the legislature of defying the will of the voters, some 60 percent of whom favored the original proposal, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce said the legislature’s actions provided a much-needed opportunity for debate.

For employers, like you, the amended law could be a money-saver. The minimum wage is now slated to rise more slowly – an average of 23 cents per year – than it did between 2013 to 2018 (an average of 37 cents per year). While employees will have to wait for their wages to rise, Michigan’s new minimum is higher than that in 35 other states, and substantially higher than the federal minimum of $7.25 (unchanged since 2009).

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By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
901 Wilshire Drive, Suite 550
Troy, MI 48084
(248) 247-3300
(248) 247-3310 facsimile
[email protected]