Will Minimum Wage Hikes Impact Your Business?


To help ensure that the minimum wage keeps pace with the rising cost of living, many states and municipalities adjust their minimum wage rates annually. Increases in the minimum wage constitute the greatest number of new requirements for employers in 2019, representing approximately 50% of all requirements that became effective on Jan. 1.

What does this mean for your HR and people management team? Here’s some information from XpertHR that gives you the details you need on how mandatory wage increases may impact your business.

The hourly minimum wage rate increased in 20 states and 26 localities, effective January 1.

On Dec. 31, 2018, minimum wage increases took effect in New York — to the benefit of those working through the New Year’s celebrations in Times Square and across the Empire State.

If your media company is headquartered in the Golden State, or has a lot of employees with California as a residence, take heed: There was an increase in the state minimum wage and, on top of that, minimum wage increases taking effect in 17 localities within California.

Meanwhile, XpertHR finds that several other states raised their minimum wage “by a significant amount.”

For example, Massachusetts and Washington now have a $12/hr. minimum wage; Arizona and Maine went up to $11/hr.

This means companies with media properties in cities ranging from Seattle to Spokane and Kennewick to Bellingham have a salary floor similar to stations in Boston and Worcester.

“With the federal minimum wage frozen at $7.25 since July 2009, it’s not surprising that many states have taken matters into their own hands,” notes David Weisenfeld, JD and Legal Editor at XpertHR. “In fact, minimum wage increases at the state level have become virtually an annual event.”

Minimum wage hikes are not the only notable developments that took effect on New Year’s Day.

One of the biggest employment law trends of 2018 at the state level involved new prohibitions on salary history questions. These restrictions aim to eliminate the still-sizeable gap that exists between men and women for performing the same, or substantially similar, work.

Effective January 1, 2019, Connecticut, Hawai’i and Oregon restrict employers from asking job applicants about their current or past salary history.

There are other HR-related issues every C-Suite executive should keep top of mind in 2019.

Another evolving area involves new requirements relating to leave and employee benefits. These requirements cover issues ranging from paid sick and family leave to health care to military leave.

Eight states had new requirements taking effect on January 1:

  • Arizona—health care continuation coverage law
  • Connecticut—essential health benefit and cost sharing requirements
  • Illinois—consolidating military leave laws
  • Maine—adding preventive health care service requirements
  • New Jersey—individual health insurance mandate
  • New York—paid family leave benefits rate increase
  • Rhode Island—paid sick leave accrual and use rate increases
  • Washington—employee contributions may be collected for paid family and medical leave benefits

Also on the health care front, the federal tax reform law enacted in late December 2017 repealed the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate beginning January 1, 2019. The ACA individual mandate had required almost everyone either to maintain minimum essential coverage or to make a shared responsibility payment.

The New Jersey individual health insurance mandate law, mentioned above, mirrors the one that the ACA originally established before its repeal. Other states may well follow suit.

These requirements, along with increased minimum wage rates and salary history inquiry laws, highlight the 2019 changes likely to affect organizations this year.