The United States Senate has introduced a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage in three increments. Six months after becoming law, employers would be required to pay their workers $8.20 an hour. After a year, the hourly wage would increase to $9.15 before finally reaching $10.10 in the next year. Missouri’s minimum wage is currently $7.50 an hour, only a quarter more than the federal minimum.

A debate on the bill is expected to encounter fierce opposition from the House of Representatives where the Republican majority has expressed fear that increasing the minimum wage will put an onerous burden on small businesses.

Proponents of the bill argue that it will bump up consumer spending in the local marketplaces by recirculating money through the purchase of goods and services. The AFL-CIO, which supports the legislation, notes on its website that “if the federal minimum wage had kept pace with workers’ productivity since 1968, the inflation-adjusted minimum wage would be $18.67.”

Some Missouri small business owners fear a loss of revenue if the federal minimum wage is raised incrementally over the next few years. One Cape Girardeau antique shop owner with five employees fears that she would have to make staff cuts in order to keep her doors open if the wage law passes. Another small business owner points out that while she understands theory behind the proposed increase, in practice it might not play out because she wouldn’t be seeing an increase in business revenue and would have to cut employee hours accordingly.

So the debate continues, with both sides adamant about their positions. Whatever the minimum wage, if you work for an employer who is paying you below that wage or denying overtime pay, your only recourse may be through the court system with the guidance of a Missouri employment law attorney.

Source: Southeast Missourian, “Minimum-wage bill causes concern among business owners” Samantha Rinehart, Apr. 30, 2014