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What is the federal minimum wage?

The federal minimum wage for non-exempt, covered employees is governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Since July 24, 2009, it has been set at $7.25 per hour. However, employees in states with a higher minimum wage must be paid at the state's higher rate.

According to Missouri's Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, on January 1, 2015, the hourly minimum wage will increase to $7.65 per hour.

There are exceptions to this law. One of them applies to employees who get tips, such as bartenders, waiters and others in the service industry.

Employees who receive tips may not be paid less than $2.13 per hour if that plus their tips is at least the equivalent of the federal minimum wage, they make more than $30 per month in tips and get to keep all of their tips. If these conditions don't apply, the employer must make up the hourly wage difference.

There are also exceptions for workers younger than 20 who are in their initial 90 days of employment. These workers may be only paid $4.25 per hour. Their employment must not displace other workers, and when they turn 20 or have been on the job for 90 consecutive days, they must then be paid at least $7.25 an hour.

In some cases, full-time students, some disabled workers and some student learners can also be paid at a lower hourly rate as well.

In order for the federal minimum wage to increase, the president must sign a bill into law that has already passed in Congress. There are no provisions for automatic increases.

The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division is in charge of enforcing the minimum wage. They accomplish this through educating the public about the wage laws and enforcing them.

If you are working for an employer that is committing minimum wage violations, you may wish to speak to a Missouri employment law attorney in order to get what is rightfully owed to you.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "Questions and Answers About the Minimum Wage" Nov. 13, 2014

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