Minimum Wage/Paid Leave Initiatives in the Election

With the election coming up on November 8th, employers should not only be concerned about the presidential vote, but also a number of initiatives around the country which could have an impact on HR compliance in a number of states.  In our previous blog, we wrote explained how five states will be voting to allow recreational use of marijuana, and an additional three states will vote on the use of medical marijuana.  Another issue to take note of is minimum wage.  While both presidential candidates have their own ideas on the federal level, five states will be voting on minimum wage.


·         Arizona (Proposition 206)-  Proposition 206 would raise minimum wage in Arizona to $10.00 in 2017, $10.50 in 2018, $11.00 in 2019, and $12 in 2020.  In 2021, the measure would increase the minimum wage with the cost of living.  Also included in the initiative is a guarantee of 40 hours annually of paid sick time for employees who work at a business with 15 or more employees.  Employees who work at a business with less than 15 employees will be guaranteed 24 hours.  An employee will be able to use the paid sick time for their own medical care, to care for a family member, a public health emergency, or addressing domestic violence.


·         Colorado (Amendment 70)-  Amendment 70 aims to raise the current minimum wage of $8.31 per hour to $12 per hour in gradual steps of a $.90 increase each January 1.  If passed, the minimum wage would jump to $9.30 per hour January 1, 2017.


·         Maine (Question 4)-  Maine will allow voters to decide on increasing the state’s minimum wage.  If question 4 is passed, the minimum wage would be raised from the current $7.50 per hour, gradually to $12 per hour by 2020.  Additionally, the minimum wage for tipped employees will gradually increase by $1 each year until it is equal to the general minimum wage with a 2024 deadline.


·         South Dakota (Referred Law 20)-  Also known as the South Dakota Youth Minimum Wage Veto Referendum, it allows voters to either support or reject Senate Bill 177 (SB 177).  In 2014, South Dakotans approved Measure 18, which increased minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $8.50 per hour starting on January 1, 2015.  Democrats supported Measure 18, but Republicans responded with SB 177, which was designed to exempt workers under age 18 from receiving the minimum wage increase.  A yes vote on Referred Law 20 supports SB 177, a no vote opposes SB 177.


·         Washington (Initiative 1433)-  A two part initiative that if passed would increase the current state minimum wage from $9.47 per hour to $13.50 per hour by 2020, as well as mandating employers to offer paid sick leave.  If it does not pass, the minimum wage is expected to increase to $10.28 per hour in 2020.  If passed, employers would be required to provide paid sick leave to employees beginning in 2018.  Employees would be able to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, and unused time will be able to roll over to the following year.