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State Senator

Julie Kushner

Representing Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, Sherman

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Senate Democrats Begin Final Debate On Raising Connecticut’s Minimum Wage

Connecticut’s Democratic State Senators began debate this evening on what they predict will be the successful, final passage of a bill designed to raise Connecticut’s hourly minimum wage to $15 an hour in five yearly steps by June 1, 2023 – a change that will benefit a third of a million state residents, or nearly a third of Connecticut’s workforce.

After June 1, 2023, the bill would index Connecticut’s hourly minimum wage to changes in the federal Employment Cost Index.

Once the bill is passed and signed into law by Governor Lamont, and first minimum wage increase will take effect on October 1 of this year.

“Working people deserve to work with dignity,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D-New Haven). “Over 300,000 hardworking people will benefit from raising the minimum wage, and I’m hopeful that Connecticut will join other states around the country in passing this legislation.”

“Connecticut needs to pay workers the wages they deserve,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “By raising the minimum wage, we are ensuring that more people are lifted out of poverty and are able to provide for themselves and their families. It’s the right thing to do and our economy will benefit from it.”

“Passing this minimum wage increase will benefit 332,000 people in Connecticut – that’s 28 percent of our workforce,” said state Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury), who as Senate Chair of the Labor Committee brought the bill out on the Senate floor and answered legislators’ questions about it. “The public support for raising the minimum wage in Connecticut is really quite amazing. Even people who make well above the minimum wage are supportive of more pay over time for others. This support speaks volumes about the values of the people in our state, of their consideration for others. It’s wonderful to see.”

“As a business owner, I’ve thought long and hard about this issue, and I decided it was important enough to bring up the lowest-level pay for employees because I believe getting people to a higher wage is critical for the health and welfare for the State of Connecticut. It’s the fair thing to do,” said state Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex), who is the owner of Tower Laboratories, which is headquartered in Essex and which employs 150 people in Connecticut. “There may be unintended consequences, but I believe the good outweighs the bad. I wish the minimum wage had been indexed since I entered the workforce so we wouldn’t be dealing with an abrupt change right now. I suspect the minimum wage would be significantly higher had we done that, and we wouldn’t be fighting this battle right now. I’m glad this bill addresses that going forward.”

Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour is a popular public policy with Connecticut residents: an August 2018 Quinnipiac University poll of more than 1,000 Connecticut residents found that nearly two-thirds (63%) support increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, including 73% of women, 67% of people over age 67, 65% of people ages 18-24, 56% of unaffiliated voters, and 33% of Republicans.

SUMMARY:

House Bill 5004, “AN ACT INCREASING THE MINIMUM FAIR WAGE,” increases Connecticut’s hourly minimum wage from the current $10.10 per hour to:

  • $11.00 on October 1, 2019
  • $12.00 on September 1, 2020
  • $13.00 on August 1, 2021
  • $14.00 on July 1, 2022
  • and $15.00 on June 1, 2023

Tip Credit:

Current state law provides a “tip credit” to employers of hotel and restaurant staff and to bartenders who customarily receive tips. The tip credit allows employers to count these employee tips as a percentage of their minimum wage requirement, thus reducing the employer’s share of the minimum wage -- as long as the tips make up the difference. The new minimum wage bill freezes the employer’s share of these employees’ minimum wage requirement at their current values ($6.38 for hotel and restaurant staff, and $8.23 for bartenders), but the bill also requires the tip credit’s value to correspondingly increase to make up for the difference between the employer’s share and the bill’s minimum wage increases. Thus, it allows employers to count these employees’ tips towards the difference between the employer’s share and the increasing minimum wage, as long as the tips make up the difference.

Training / Youth Wage:

Today’s minimum wage bill also addresses the issue of so-called training or youth wages. Starting October 1, 2019, the bill changes the “training wage” that employers may pay to learners, beginners, and people under age 18. Current state law generally allows employers to pay these employees as low as 85% of the regular minimum wage for their first 200 hours of employment. Today’s bill eliminates the training wage exceptions for learners and beginners, and now limits the training wage only to people under age 18 (except for emancipated minors.) Thus, today’s bill requires learners and beginners who are at least age 18 to be paid the full minimum wage.

Today’s bill also requires the training wage to be the greater of $10.10 or 85% of the minimum wage, and it allows employers to pay the training wage to people under age 18 for the first 90 days, rather than 200 hours, of their employment.

ECI Indexing:

Starting on January 1, 2024, and on each January 1 every year after that, the bill requires the minimum wage to be adjusted by the percent change in the federal Employment Cost Index (ECI) for all civilian workers’ wages and salaries over the 12-month period ending on June 30 of the preceding year, as calculated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A history of the ECI can be found here: https://www.bls.gov/ncs/ncspubs.htm#tabs-2

Connecticut History of the Minimum Wage:

  • 1959 Act added “owner” and “partnership” to Subsec. (e) and the proviso and authority to define executive, etc., capacity by regulation to Subsec. (f); 1961 act added to Subsec. (f) the clause re employees of industry and increased the minimum wage rate provided for by Subsec. (j);
  • 1963 Act included beginners in minimum wage provisions of Subsec. (j), specified that $0.95 minimum wage for learners, beginners and persons under eighteen applies for the first 500 hours of employment, set rate at $1.25 thereafter and exempted institutional training programs designated by commissioner from pay provision;
  • 1967 Acts redefined “employee” to delete reference to individuals exempt under specified Subdivs. of Fair Labor Standards Act and individuals employed in industries for which wage orders have been established as employees, redefined “minimum fair wage”, revising wage amounts and reducing hours at which beginners, etc. are paid a lesser amount from 500 to 200;
  • 1969 Act redefined “minimum fair wage” to add provisions pegging increases to increases in federal minimum wage;
  • 1971 Acts redefined “employee” to delete exclusion for employees of state, municipalities or political subdivisions and redefined “minimum fair wage” to increase wage amounts, to delete provision re formula for increase in gratuities allowance for restaurant employees and to add provision re fair wage for agricultural employees;
  • 1972 Act redefined “employee” to delete exclusion for individuals in manufacturing establishments subject to provisions of Fair Labor Standards Act;
  • P.A. 73-82 redefined “employee” to specifically exclude persons employed in executive, administrative, professional or outside sales capacity;
  • P.A. 77-154 excluded employees of nonprofit theaters which operate less than seven months a year from consideration as employees;
  • P.A. 77-329 qualified exclusion of persons in domestic service from consideration as employees by adding exception and excluded baby-sitters;
  • P.A. 78-358 raised minimum wage, pegged rates to “highest” federal minimum wage, changed basis of wage for beginners, etc. from $1.50 for the first 200 hours and $1.85 thereafter to not less than 85% of basic minimum wage for first 200 hours and equaling basic minimum wage thereafter and deleted provision re minimum wage for agricultural employees;
  • P.A. 79-41 redefined “employer” to include the state and its political subdivisions; P.A. 83-537 amended Subsec. (f) to exempt any individual employed as a head resident or resident assistant at a college or university from the definition of “employee”;
  • P.A. 87-366 amended Subsec. (j) to increase the minimum fair wage to $3.75 on October 1, 1987, and to $4.25 on October 1, 1988;
  • P.A. 93-144 redefined “employee” to delete specific exclusion of persons employed in a bona fide executive, administrative or professional capacity;
  • P.A. 95-79 redefined “employer” to include a limited liability company, effective May 31, 1995;
  • P.A. 98-44 amended Subsec. (j) to increase the minimum fair wage to $5.65 on January 1, 1999, and to $6.15 on January 1, 2000;
  • P.A. 00-144 amended Subsec. (j) to increase the minimum fair wage to $6.40 on January 1, 2001, and to $6.70 on January 1, 2002;
  • P.A. 02-33 amended Subsec. (j) by deleting prior minimum fair wage amounts and by increasing the minimum fair wage to $6.90 on January 1, 2003, and to $7.10 on January 1, 2004, effective July 1, 2002;
  • P.A. 05-32 amended Subsec. (j) to increase the minimum fair wage to $7.40 on January 1, 2006, and $7.65 on January 1, 2007;
  • P.A. 08-92 amended Subsec. (j) to increase minimum fair wage to $8.00 per hour on January 1, 2009, and to $8.25 per hour on January 1, 2010; P.A. 10-32 made a technical change in Subsec. (e), effective May 10, 2010; P.A. 13-25 amended Subsec. (f) to redefine “employee” by adding provision re member of the armed forces of the state performing military duty;
  • P.A. 13-117 amended Subsec. (j) to redefine “minimum fair wage” by increasing minimum wage to $8.70 per hour on January 1, 2014, and $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2015, effective July 1, 2013;
  • P.A. 13-140 deleted former Subsec. (b) defining “wage board”, redesignated existing Subsecs. (c) to (j) as Subsecs. (b) to (i), and made technical changes, effective June 18, 2013;
  • P.A. 14-1 amended Subsec. (i) to redefine “minimum fair wage” by increasing minimum wage to $9.15 on January 1, 2015, to $9.60 on January 1, 2016, and to $10.10 on January 1, 2017, effective July 1, 2014;
  • P.A. 15-127 amended Subsec. (b) by deleting reference to wage board, effective June 23, 2015.

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