One of the basic premises of the modern employment relationship is that men and women should be paid an appropriate wage for the work they perform for their employers. In centuries past, an employer could dictate the terms of the employment relationship and pay his or her workers whatever wages he or she desired. In some situations, the worker could leave and work for another employer if he or she was dissatisfied with the wage offered by the first employer. However, more often than not workers were forced to accept whatever wage their employer offered. Now, Arizona employees are guaranteed a minimum wage – but what does this mean?
Minimum Wage Laws in Arizona: What You Need to Know
In Arizona, an employer must pay his or her employee a minimum wage of $8.05 per hour. This is more than the federal minimum wage, which is presently set at $7.25 per hour. As is true in many employment law situations, whenever state laws differ from federal laws, the law that provides the greater protection or benefit to the employee prevails. In this case, Arizona workers enjoy a minimum wage that is 80 cents hire than the minimum wage the federal government requires all workers to be paid. Arizona’s minimum wage is reviewed annually, and legislators determine whether current economic conditions in the state and/or country justify an increase in the minimum wage. (Note that some professions, mainly those whose compensation includes tips like waiters and waitresses have a lower minimum wage in recognition that they also receive “wages” in the form of tips.)
The state’s minimum wage law also requires that employees be compensated at a rate of 1.5 times their hourly rate for any hours they work over 40 hours in a given workweek. This increased wage is referred to as overtime pay. This means that a worker employed at a job that pays $8.05 per hour would be entitled to be paid $12.08 per hour for all time that the employee works over 40 hours in a given week.
Employers may not pay their workers a salary that is below what would constitute a minimum wage salary. For example, an employer is prohibited from hiring a person to perform a job for $500 per month as this would be well below the wages the person could expect to receive from a 40-hour per week job paying the minimum wage. Also, employers cannot pay their workers a set salary as a means of circumventing the overtime pay requirement. An employer may be in violation of the law if they pay their employees a salary equivalent to minimum wage but routinely work their employees more than 40 hours per week.
Exceptions to Minimum Wage
Minimum wage laws do not apply in situations where, for example, you are hiring the neighborhood kid to mow your lawn. Minimum wage laws also do not apply to employees of the state or federal government or employees of small businesses (those with less than $500,000 in annual gross revenue).
Workers who feel that they are not being paid in accordance with the minimum wage law can bring this matter to the attention of the Arizona Labor Department of the Industrial Commission of Arizona. The method to bring this matter to the Department’s attention is through the filing of an administrative complaint. The Department will then investigate the matter and, if a violation of the law is determined, attempt to work with the employer and the employee to reach a fair resolution. Employees have one year from the date they were due their wages to file a claim based on a violation of the minimum wage law. For more information see this article on minimum wage in Arizona.