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New Year, new minimum wage in New Jersey

New Jersey is one of the 13 states that are set to increase the minimum wage with the ringing in of 2014, as reported by the National Employment Law Project. Washington D.C. lawmakers and those in another 11 states said that raising the minimum wage would at least be a topic of consideration in the upcoming 12 months.

As it stands, the federal minimum wage is set at $7.25, and there is no current indication that Congress will move to increase this base level. However, states have the option to set their own minimum wage as long as it does not fall below this federal standard. New Jersey has opted for a minimum wage of $8.25 beginning on Jan. 1.

The decision to increase the minimum wage came on the back of a nationwide push from advocates that lasted through 2013, many of which were from the fast-food sector. The concern for these advocates is that the current federal minimum wage and the minimum in many states do not provide working individuals with enough money to live on, failing to account for inflation.

Regardless of whether an employer is a proponent or opponent of increasing the minimum wage, they must comply with federal and state wage and hour laws. However, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that not all employers may be fulfilling this requirement. According to the data, 5 percent of hourly employees across the nation receive the minimum wage or even less.

Hourly employees working in New Jersey that are not being paid at least the minimum wage pursuant to current law at the time may have a claim against their employer for wage violations.

Source: USA TODAY, “13 states raising pay for minimum-wage workers,” Paul Davidson, Dec. 30, 2013 

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