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Missouri Minimum Wage Increase May Be Decided by Voters

Missouri may be moving closer to enacting a new minimum wage law. Advocates working to put an initiative on the ballot this fall are encouraged by a recent state judge's ruling that approved language for the initiative. If enacted, the law would take effect in 2013.

In 2006 the minimum wage in Missouri was set at $6.50 an hour, but the law provided that Missouri would match the federal standard if Missouri's wage was lower. With the federal rate now at $7.25, that is the current state standard. The new proposal contains the same matching provision but would initially set Missouri's minimum wage at $8.25 an hour.

Like the law now in effect, the proposed wage increase also provides annual cost-of-living adjustments in following years. The cost-of-living adjustments will apply to the most current hourly rate.

Unpaid Missouri Overtime

Hourly workers should be aware that the increased hourly wage, while it ought to benefit them, may lead to a reduction in paid overtime. In these difficult economic times, many Missouri hourly workers find themselves working extra hours and overtime in order to survive. But, as workers become more expensive, some employers may cut back on overtime.

Unfortunately, situations also occur in which some employers attempt to get around requirements to pay overtime wages - leaving employees holding the bag for overtime they are legally entitled to. Some businesses could resort to unfair practices to illegally avoid paying workers overtime when the new law is enacted.

An increase in the state's minimum wage may have a profound positive effect for so many people, but that effect could be offset if businesses don't pay workers their fair share for overtime - which is why employees need to be ever-watchful in making sure they get the compensation they are legally entitled to.

Source: CBS News, "Mo. Judge upholds minimum wage ballot summary," April 26, 2012

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