June 26, 2015
Employment Law Alert
Author(s): Stacie B. Collier
Rhode Island’s legislative session concludes with minimum wage changes, including the first raise for tipped workers in two decades.
The end of Rhode Island’s legislative session brought with it a number of minimum wage changes.
Governor Gina Raimondo signed a bill on Monday that increases Rhode Island’s minimum wage from $9 per hour to $9.60 per hour. The increase becomes effective January 1, 2016, and marks the fourth time in as many years that Rhode Island has increased the state’s minimum wage. The increase puts Rhode Island on par with its neighboring New England states, including Connecticut, where the state minimum wage will also increase to $9.60 per hour in 2016, and Massachusetts, where the minimum wage is set to increase to $10 per hour in 2016.
The Rhode Island General Assembly similarly passed legislation on Thursday to increase the minimum wage for tipped workers, such as restaurant and hotel workers, in Rhode Island by $1 over the next two years. This marks the first increase for these workers in 20 years. The current minimum wage for tipped workers in Rhode Island is $2.89 per hour. The new legislation will increase this minimum wage to $3.39 per hour on January 1, 2016, and to $3.89 on January 1, 2017. Rhode Island’s tipped worker minimum wage rate is still substantially lower than neighboring states—like Connecticut, where the tipped minimum wage is $5.78 per hour for waitpersons and $7.82 per hour for bartenders, and New York, where the tipped minimum wage is $7.50 per hour. However, the new Rhode Island rate is higher than the $3 per hour minimum tipped rate in Massachusetts. The new Rhode Island legislation now awaits the governor’s signature.
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