By: LeMara Perry
Employers and workers throughout the District of Columbia are gearing up for an increase to the minimum wage, set to take place on July 1.
In January, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill that will raise the city’s minimum wage to $11.50 per hour over the course of three years.
““I am proud of the role we played in bringing this minimum wage increase about, because it will enable all District workers to earn a decent living as well as boost average family incomes,” Mayor Gray said in a statement Tuesday. “I am also confident that this measure will help stimulate economic growth in our city, as more money in families’ pockets will allow our residents to spend more money on goods and services”
The bill increases the minimum wage, which is currently $8.25, to $11.50 in three steps:
$9.50 on July 1, 2014
$10.50 on July 1, 2015
$11.50 on July 1, 2016
Also, in an effort to stop the real value of the minimum wage from declining over time, starting on July 1, 2017 and every July 1 thereafter, the bill requires that the minimum wage be increased to reflect the changes in the cost of living, as determined by the Consumer Price Index in the Washington Area
While the bill unfortunately does not raise the base minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers, which is set at $2.77 per hour, it does require that employers of tipped workers verify and certify every dollar amount that all of their employees do end up making at least the full minimum wage, through base wages and tips combined. If the number does not equal the District’s full minimum wage, the employer is responsible for paying the difference.
There is also a ballot initiative, drafted by D.C. Working Families, to raise the minimum wage to $12.50 per hour by 2016, instead of the slated $11.50. According to a DCBOE staff attorney, “proponents should be receiving their petitions on June 25 absent a court challenge to the summary formulation.”
The group will only have until July 7 to collect 25,000 valid signatures from D.C. residents to get the initiative on the November ballot. To get the initiative on the ballot in the next citywide election after November, the group has 180 days to collect signatures.
Over the next few weeks, the Department of Employment Services (DOES) will mail new D.C. minimum wage posters to all District employers, according to the Mayor’s Office. Employers subject to the act will be required to display the poster, informing employees of the change. For more information and up to date information on the minimum wage increase, visit the DOES website at www.does.dc.gov or contact the DOES Office of Wage and Hour at 202-61-1880.