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Questions and Answers about the Minimum Wage

What is the federal minimum wage?

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. Many states also have minimum wage laws. Where an employee is subject to both the state and federal minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to the higher minimum wage rate.

Various minimum wage exceptions apply under specific circumstances to workers with disabilitiesfull-time studentsyouth under age 20 in their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment, tipped employees and student-learners.

More Q&A's about the Minimum Wage can be found on dol.gov.

What is the minimum wage for workers who receive tips?

An employer may pay a tipped employee not less than $2.13 an hour in direct wages if that amount plus the tips received equal at least the federal minimum wage, the employee retains all tips and the employee customarily and regularly receives more than $30 a month in tips. If an employee's tips combined with the employer's direct wages of at least $2.13 an hour do not equal the federal minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference.

Some states have minimum wage laws specific to tipped employees. When an employee is subject to both the federal and state wage laws, the employee is entitled to the provisions of each law which provide the greater benefits.

Must young workers be paid the minimum wage?

A minimum wage of $4.25 per hour applies to young workers under the age of 20 during their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with an employer, as long as their work does not displace other workers. After 90 consecutive days of employment or the employee reaches 20 years of age, whichever comes first, the employee must receive a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009.

Other programs that allow for payment of less than the full federal minimum wage apply to workers with disabilitiesfull-time students, and student-learners employed pursuant to sub-minimum wage certificates. These programs are not limited to the employment of young workers.

What minimum wage exceptions apply to full-time students?

The Full-time Student Program is for full-time students employed in retail or service stores, agriculture, or colleges and universities. The employer that hires students can obtain a certificate from the Department of Labor which allows the student to be paid not less than 85% of the minimum wage. The certificate also limits the hours that the student may work to 8 hours in a day and no more than 20 hours a week when school is in session and 40 hours when school is out, and requires the employer to follow all child labor laws. Once students graduate or leave school for good, they must be paid $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009.

There are some limitations on the use of the full-time student program. For information on the limitations or to obtain a certificate, contact the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour National Certification Team at 230 South Dearborn Street, Room 514, Chicago, Illinois 60604, telephone: 312-596-7195.

What minimum wage exceptions apply to student learners?

This program is for high school students at least 16 years old who are enrolled in vocational education (shop courses). The employer that hires the student can obtain a certificate from the Department of Labor which allows the student to be paid not less than 75% of the minimum wage, for as long as the student is enrolled in the vocational education program.

Employers interested in applying for a student learner certificate should contact the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour National Certification Team at 230 South Dearborn Street, Room 514, Chicago, Illinois 60604, telephone: 312-596-7195.

Other programs that allow for payment of less than the full federal minimum wage apply to disabled workers and full-time students employed pursuant to sub-minimum wage certificates.

More Q&A's about the Minimum Wage can be found on dol.gov.