While Virginia lawmakers have passed a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage, its implementation could be delayed as the state grapples with the impact of the coronavirus.
The first increase was slated to go into effect Jan. 1, 2021. But Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, has declined to sign the legislation, citing the economic effects of COVID-19. Instead, he proposed pushing back the initial minimum wage increase to May 1, 2021. (The governor also proposed delaying other measures — including collective bargaining and project labor agreement legislation — to May of next year.)
Legislators are expected to reconvene this week for a one-day session to hash out minimum wage and other issues. Check back on this Employment Law News blog for an update.
UPDATE: The state appears set to delay the effective date.
Virginia Minimum Wage Increases
Today, the minimum wage in Virginia is $7.25, which is the federal rate.
As initially passed by the General Assembly, the new minimum wage rates in the state would be:
- May 1, 2021 – $9.50
- Jan. 1, 2022 – $11
- Jan. 1, 2023 – $12
- Jan. 1, 2025 – $13.50
- Jan. 1, 2026 – $15
Meanwhile, the legislation would also eliminate certain exemptions for certain categories of employees, including people who are paid by the amount of work done, home domestic service workers, small businesses and others.
Coronavirus and the Minimum Wage
Though paid leave laws have rightfully risen to the forefront as a result of the coronavirus, minimum wage increases have also been part of the current discussion of employment law.
In addition to Virginia, other jurisdictions have considered a delay to minimum wage increases in an effort to lessen the impact on employers as the economy continues to struggle.
Many states, counties and cities schedule minimum wage increases at the start of the year (Dec. 31 and Jan. 1), but some also opt to raise rates during summer (June 30 and July 1). With officials continuing to ponder ways to help employers in the wake of COVID-19, it’s worth tracking these laws and making sure the correct minimum wage is applied.
The current climate has sparked an additional focus on employment law, especially after the federal government stepped in with paid leave and emergency relief measures. A post-coronavirus U.S. could look much different in terms of employer responsibilities.
In the meantime, it’s incumbent upon employers to stay on top of potential legislative changes at all levels of government to ensure compliance.
GovDocs is working to keep employers informed during the coronavirus pandemic. Check previous installments of Employment Law News for other blogs related to COVID-19: