The most talked about change in employment law in the United States this year is the increase of the minimum wage. While this change will not take effect until July of 2008, it is deemed to be one of the most significant changes to take place for many years.
The minimum amount that can be paid out to an employee for their work in this country is currently $5.85. This amount is set to increase to $6.55 next year with this new law and then again up to $7.25 in 2009. The exception to this rule is the pay employers can pay to workers who receive tips. Employers will still be responsible to ensure that tipped employees receive at least the new minimum wage between their tips and their hourly rate.
The U.S. minimum wage is governed by federal labor law and has not been increased for years. The minimum wage for workers in other developed countries has been significantly higher for years. Poverty activists in America and around the world have taken issue with the low level of the minimum wage here for quite some time.
An employee in the United States who works for minimum wage at a job for forty hours a week will bring home a gross amount of $262 per week at the new rate. Of course, from that grand total of $262, federal and state taxes as well as other required deductions reduce that amount somewhat.
Other developed countries have increased their minimum wages well beyond that of the United States. It is thought throughout much of the world that the United States has not taken strong enough steps towards equitable pay and minimum wage levels and that what many Americans see as pro-business laws are in fact pro-poverty for it’s citizens.
Anti poverty groups are still pushing for U.S. labor laws to increase the minimum wage even more and will continue to do so despite the recent increase. The rising numbers of homeless people and others living below or at the poverty level in America is unacceptable to most groups of people. That is what makes this issue one that will continue to be discussed into the future.
Whether the recent labor law announcement is seen as helpful to those trying to earn a living on minimum wage is up for debate. Whether the increase is seen as harmful to business is also up for debate. There are still many who believe that helping businesses succeed helps all levels of our society succeed. There are the proponents of higher wages who believe that helping individuals succeed will in turn help businesses succeed.
The United States labor and employment laws will continue to be challenged over many issues. One will be the level of the minimum wage despite this year’s announcement for impending increases. This will be an issue that does not go away because it appears to take such a long time for any kind of changes to take place.