Benefits and Compensation

Connecticut Minimum Wage Increase Kicks in On October 1

Connecticut’s minimum wage will increase on October 1 as the state begins a series of hikes that will eventually make the state’s minimum $15 an hour.minimum wage

The increases will be phased in on the following dates:

  • October 1, 2019—$11
  • September 1, 2020—$12
  • August 1, 2021—$13
  • July 1, 2022—$14
  • June 1, 2023—$15

After the $15 level is reached, the state’s minimum wage will be adjusted based on the employment cost index, a federal figure that measures the cost of labor in certain businesses. Those adjustments, however, cannot lower the minimum wage below $15 an hour. The adjustments also can be suspended if the state’s economy does poorly.

Tip Credits

For now, the new law doesn’t change the “tip credit” that allows hotel and restaurant employees who work for tips to be paid significantly less than the minimum wage. Employers get the credit that allows them to pay employees less than the minimum wage if their tips and hourly wage reach the minimum wage when combined. Thus, hotel and restaurant employees who earn tips must be paid a wage of just $6.38 an hour if they make enough in tips so that they actually earn the full minimum wage. Bartenders have to be paid at least $8.23 an hour if they make enough in tips.

The new law doesn’t change those minimums—at least for now. Instead, it increases the tip credit as the minimum wage rises over the next few years. So, a restaurant, hotel, or bar may not have to increase what it pays its tipped workers if those tips are enough to ensure the employee earns the minimum wage.

Teen Workers

The new law also changes how teens can be paid. Before the new law, employers could pay employees under 18 about $8.59 an hour for the first 200 days on the job. But going forward, workers under 18 will have to be paid $10.10 an hour for the first 90 days of their employment. After that, they must be paid what the minimum wage is, which will be at least $11 an hour starting October 1.

For more information on Connecticut’s new minimum wage, see the June 2019 issue of Connecticut Employment Law Letter.

Brendan N. Gooley is an attorney with Carlton Fields in Hartford. He can be reached at bgooley@carltonfields.com.