D.C. Council gives final nod to increased minimum wages

The Council of the District of Columbia approved legislation to increase the minimum wage during an emergency legislative meeting held on June 21, 2016. This was the second and final approval of the measure to increase the minimum wage to $15 and the tipped wage to $5 by 2020. The Fair Shot Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2016 (Bill 21-712), as amended, was approved unanimously by a voice vote. In addition, temporary emergency measures were also approved to enable the bill and its amendments to be enacted before the July adjournment of the legislature in order to give time to make bulletins of the wage adjustments available to employers. The measure now goes before the Mayor, who has promised to sign it.

The minimum wage in the District is already scheduled to increase from $10.50 per hour to $11.50 per hour July 1, 2016. regardless of size of employer. The Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2013 was signed into law on January 15, 2014.

The new increases would be as follows: $12.50 per hour on July 1, 2017; $13.25 on July 1, 2018; $14.00 on July 1, 2019; and $15.00 on July 1, 2020. In any year where the federal minimum wage is higher than the minimum wage in D.C., the minimum wage in D.C. would increase to the federal minimum wage plus $1. Starting July 1, 2021, the minimum wage would then be increased in proportion to the annual average increase, if any, in the cost of living, based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers in the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor for the previous calendar year. Any increase shall be adjusted to the nearest multiple of $.05.

Tipped minimum wage. The minimum hourly wage to be paid to an employee who receives gratuities, provided the employee actually receives gratuities in an amount at least equal to the difference between the hourly wage paid and the minimum wage in the District, is scheduled to increase from the current $2.77 per hour as follows: $3.33 per hour on July 1, 2017; $3.89 on July 1, 2018; $4.45 on July 1, 2019; and $5.00 on July 1, 2020. Beginning July 1, 2021, the minimum wage for tipped employees would also be adjusted based on any increases in the cost of living.

In addition, the District’s Living Wage Act of 2006 is amended to provide that these minimum wage requirements would apply to contracts and agreements for government assistance if the minimum wage is ever higher than the living wage.

The Mayor is required to publish in the District of Columbia Register, on the Department of Employment Services Internet website, and make available to employers a bulletin announcing the adjusted minimum hourly wage at least 30 days before an increase is scheduled to take effect.

In addition to the minimum wage, the Council also gave a second approval on the Budget Support Act (BSA), to set aside $20 million in unspent FY2016 funds to implement the Universal Paid Sick Leave Act of 2016. (Council of the District of Columbia, News Release, July 21, 2016, http://dccouncil.us/news/entry/budget-and-minimum-wage-bills-pass-final-council-hurdle; Bill 21-712, http://lims.dccouncil.us/Legislation/B21-0712?FromSearchResults=true.)

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