[USA] Employer information on changes to Nevada's minimum wage law

Sweeping policy and statutory changes made by the 2019 Nevada Legislative Session are coming into effect and it is important for business owners to stay up to date with the latest requirements, Northern Nevada Business View reports.

One key change for private employers is the increase in the statewide minimum wage. Before the legislative session, the minimum wage in Nevada was $7.25 per hour if an employer provided health insurance and $8.25 per hour if the employer did not. Nevada law previously read that it was the statutory duty of the Nevada Labor Commissioner to set the minimum wage in accordance with federal law.

Assembly Bill (AB) 456 increased the minimum wage required to be paid by private employers. The bill reportedly eliminates the Labor Commissioner’s duty to maintain the minimum wage and instead enumerates the requirements set by the Legislature in statute. The new law says each private employer must pay each employee $8 per hour if the employer offers health insurance and $9 per hour if the employer does not.

The bill also provides a yearly rise in the minimum wage, with increases of $.75 on July 1 of each year until 2024 when the minimum wage will reach $11 per hour if health benefits are provided and $12 per hour if they are not. Employers must be conscious that the minimum wage continues to rise by $.75 each year until 2024 and that they are required by law to increase minimum-wage employees’ wages on July 1 each year.

The new law also says an employee who wins a civil action against an employer for failing to pay the minimum wage is entitled to all remedies under both state and federal law as well as reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Employers who violate the requirements of the statute should be aware they risk federal and state civil penalties as well as liability for back wages and may additionally have to to pay attorneys’ fees and costs for any employee bringing such a suit.

The federal minimum wage as set out in the Fair Labor Standards Act is $7.25 per hour, it has not increased since July 2009. On July 18, 2019, The House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 582 - or the “Raise the Wage” Act - which would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 over the course of six years. 

A U.S. House of Representatives report said the “Raise the Wage” Act would increase wages for approximately 40 million Americans. Senate will now consider the measure. It would also need to be signed by the President to become federal law. Should it pass, the “Raise the Wage” Act would require employers to start paying their minimum wage employees $8.55 per hour within three months. 

After a year, the minimum wage would rise to $9.85 per hour. Each subsequent year it would raise to $11.15 per hour, $12.45 per hour, $13.75 per hour and finally $15 per hour, respectively. Tipped minimum wage employees come under a different standard in the “Raise the Wage” Act. If it passes, employers would be required by federal law to follow Congress-set standards and provisions of AB 456 would no longer apply.

The National “Raise the Wage” Act is still being considered by Congress, AB 456 is the current law in Nevada. From July 1, 2020, all private employers in Nevada must pay employees a minimum wage of $8 per hour if the employer offers health benefits and $9 per hour if they do not.

The new law also provides language allowing the Nevada Labor Commissioner to adopt any necessary rules and regulations to administer and enforce the new minimum wage law.

It is essential for business owners to keep up to date made at the Legislature to be sure that their business complies with the latest laws and regulations because nuances around labour law are complex. Business owners should consult legal counsel to help them stay within the bounds of local, state, and federal labour laws.