Continuing a growing trend, Rhode Island is moving toward a $15 minimum wage.
The governor in late May 2021 signed a bill to increase minimum wage in Rhode Island, with the first bump set for Jan. 1, 2022.
Joining nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut to eventually hit the $15 minimum wage mark, Rhode Island officials expect the new rates to impact 70,000 employees by 2022 and 140,000 by 2025.
Rhode Island Minimum Wage
Minimum wage in Rhode Island last increased Oct. 1, 2020. It is currently at $11.50.
The new rates are:
- $12.25 – Jan. 1, 2022
- $13 – Jan. 1, 2023
- $14 – Jan. 1, 2024
- $15 – Jan. 1, 2025
Rhode Island’s minimum wage rates apply to all employers.
“Raising the minimum wage will benefit thousands of working Rhode Islanders and families across our state,” Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee said. “This boost in wages will go back into our local economy, supporting small businesses and our communities. I commend Representative Bennett, Senator Quezada and all the advocates who worked hard to get this bill across the finish line. This is an important step in the effort to help lift Rhode Island families out of poverty and support many of our essential workers who put themselves at risk to keep our state running during the pandemic.”
The minimum wage for tipped employees, however, will remain at $3.89.
Meanwhile, there are some exceptions to minimum wage in Rhode Island. The state allows:
- Rates for minors under 16 years of age working 24 hours per week or less to be 75 percent of the minimum wage)
- Rates for full-time students under 19 working for nonprofits to be 90 percent of the minimum wage
Minimum wage exemptions also include domestic employees, immediate family of the employer, and employees working at seasonal food or recreation facilities/camps.
Minimum Wage Management. Simplified.
Minimum Wage Elsewhere
The $15 minimum wage discussion was a hot topic before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. And it is picking up steam again, though efforts to increase minimum wage at the federal level appear to have stalled out for the time being. (A measure to make minimum wage $15 for federal contractors was successful, however.)
Still, the majority of states have set their own minimum wage rates, with those still using the federal rate mostly clustered in the South. And, of course, cities and counties have long been establishing their own minimum wage rates.
Guide: County and City Minimum Wage Rates – July 1, 2021
Plus, employers must also keep tabs on jurisdictions that update at odd times of the year, rather than July 1 and the start of the new year. For example, Connecticut minimum wage goes up Aug. 1, 2021, with different increase dates in coming years.
Employers with locations in Rhode Island should prepare for the upcoming minimum wage increases.
While it is the smallest state in the U.S., Rhode Island is poised to have thousands of employees impacted by the new rates in the coming years.
The move could also be a harbinger of things to come in the greater area, where many states have rates above the federal $7.25 an hour, but there are outliers such as New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. However, increasing the minimum wage to $15 has been proposed in Pennsylvania.
Ultimately, of course, employers must continue to keep an eye on changing rates across the country.