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Missouri Minimum Wage Set to Increase Starting January 1, 2019

On November 6, 2018, Missouri voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of amending the Missouri Minimum Wage Law (“MMWL”) to increase the state-wide minimum wage. Therefore, effective January 1, 2019, the Missouri minimum wage rate will increase to $8.60 per hour and will keep increasing each successive year until 2023 when the increases will stop at the target minimum wage rate of $12.00 per hour. Employers must begin the process of budgeting for and implementing these changes ahead of the effective date of the first increase. Employers should also be aware of the non-wage-rate related changes that the law implements. However, the wage increases do not apply to “public employers.”

Minimum Wage Increase Timetable

Under the amendments implemented by Proposition B, the Missouri minimum wage rate will increase according to the following timetable:

  • $8.60 per hour, beginning on January 1, 2019
  • $9.45 per hour, beginning on January 1, 2020
  • $10.30 per hour, beginning on January 1, 2021
  • $11.15 per hour, beginning on January 1, 2022
  • $12.00 per hour, beginning on January 1, 2023
  • Annual cost of living adjustments, beginning on January 1, 2024

Increases Not Applicable to “Public Employers”

“Public employers” are expressly excluded from the law’s coverage. As defined by the law, “public employer” means “the state or a political subdivision of the state, including a department, agency, officer, bureau, division, board, commission, or instrumentality of the state, or a city, county, town, village, school district, or other political subdivision of the state.” Therefore, the employees of public employers are not entitled to receive an increased wage rate once the minimum wage increases become effective.

Increased Penalties for Failing to Pay Minimum Wages & A Longer Statute of Limitations

The amendments implemented by Proposition B also increase the penalty for failing to pay minimum wages and lengthen the period of time during which an employee can file a lawsuit to recover unpaid wages.:

  • Unpaid/underpaid employees are entitled to liquidated damages equal to 2 times the amount of unpaid wages (previously it was 1 times that amount).
  • Lawsuits for failure to pay minimum wages must be commenced within 3 years of failure to pay (previously it was within 2 years).

Key Takeaways

Effective January 1, 2019, private employers in the state of Missouri must start paying an increased minimum wage rate.

  1. The wage rate increases do not apply to “public employers.”
  2. There are now increased penalties for failing to pay minimum wage and employees have additional time to file lawsuits asserting MMWL violations.

This blog post was drafted by Brian Peterson. He is an Associate in Spencer Fane LLP’s Kansas City, Missouri Office. For more information, please visit www.specnerfane.com.