Minimum Wage in Colorado: Colorado Minimum Wage 2024

November 27, 2023

Understanding the minimum wage in Colorado is vital for business owners, especially in the restaurant industry. This blog provides an in-depth look at Colorado’s state and local minimum wages, including Denver, Edgewater, and Boulder County, and how they compare to federal standards. We’ll explore historical trends, state laws, and exemptions to equip you with the knowledge necessary to adapt to upcoming changes.

Learn how the latest wage increases will impact your business and discover effective preparation strategies. Stay informed and ahead in managing your workforce and financial planning with this essential read.

What is the Minimum Wage in Colorado?

The current minimum wage in Colorado for 2023 is set at $13.65 per hour. This applies to all adults and emancipated minors working in the state. However, minors under 18 may be paid a wage that is up to 15% less than the standard minimum wage​​. For tipped employees, the minimum wage is $10.63 per hour​​.

Looking ahead, Colorado’s statewide minimum wage will increase on January 1, 2024, to $14.42 per hour. This upcoming raise is in line with the cost of living adjustments. The minimum wage for tipped employees is also set to rise from the current $10.63 to $11.40 at the start of 2024​​​​.

Local Minimum Wages in Colorado

In Colorado, minimum wages can vary across different municipalities due to a provision that grants local governments the authority to set their own minimum wage rates. These local minimum wages are subject to certain restrictions, including provisions for tip offsets equal to the state constitution, exemptions for workers passing through the jurisdiction, and simultaneous implementation with statewide increases. Furthermore, if a local minimum wage exceeds the statewide minimum, it can only increase annually by up to $1.75 or 15%, whichever is greater.

Denver's Minimum Wage

Denver, one of Colorado’s major cities, has implemented its minimum wage. As of January 1, 2023, the minimum wage in Denver is $17.29 per hour. For tipped food and beverage workers in the city, the minimum wage is set at $14.27 per hour, provided that they earn at least $3.02 per hour in tips. 

Looking ahead to 2024, Denver’s minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $18.29 per hour. The rate for tipped workers is also set to rise to $15.27 per hour, assuming they earn the required $3.02 per hour in tips.

Edgewater's Minimum Wage

Edgewater, another city in Colorado, is enacting its local minimum wage, effective January 1, 2024. The schedule for Edgewater’s minimum wage is $15.02 in 2024, $16.52 in 2025, $18.17 in 2026, $19.99 in 2027, and $21.99 in 2028. 

Starting in 2029, the minimum wage will undergo annual adjustments based on Edgewater’s prior year’s minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, or to match Denver’s minimum wage, whichever is higher.

Boulder County's Proposed Minimum Wage

Boulder County is also considering the introduction of a new hourly minimum wage in unincorporated areas. If approved, this proposal will take effect on January 1, 2024, and bring the local minimum wage to 15% above Colorado’s 2023 minimum wage, amounting to $15.70 per hour.

Historical Minimum Wage Rates in Colorado

Understanding Colorado's historical minimum wage rates provides valuable context for business owners and employers. Let’s take a look at the minimum wage rates in the past decade:

2013: $7.78

2014: $8.00

2015: $8.23

2016: $8.31

2017: $9.30

2018: $10.20

2019: $11.10

2020: $12.00

2021: $12.32

2022: $12.56

2023: $13.65

2024: $14.42

As we can see, the minimum wage in Colorado has been steadily increasing over the years, reflecting the state’s commitment to providing fair compensation to its workers. This upward trend is important for businesses when budgeting for labor expenses.

Source: Labor Law Center

Colorado State Minimum Wage vs Federal Minimum Wage

Federal Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage, a baseline set across the United States, currently stands at $7.25 per hour. This rate is the minimum employers nationwide are required to pay their employees, unless state law mandates a higher amount.

State Minimum Wage

Like many other states, Colorado has set its minimum wage above the federal level. As of 2023, the minimum wage in Colorado is $13.65 per hour. This is almost double the federal rate, reflecting Colorado’s commitment to ensuring a living wage for its workers.

State Minimum Wage Laws

Colorado’s approach to minimum wage is governed by state-specific laws prioritizing the higher of the two rates when federal and state minimum wage laws apply. In practice, this means that in Colorado, where the state minimum wage surpasses the federal rate, employees are entitled to at least the state-specified minimum of $13.65 per hour.

Colorado Minimum Wage Exemptions

In Colorado, the Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards (COMPS) Order #38 outlines several key exemptions to the minimum wage and overtime laws. Let’s explore these exemptions to understand who they apply to and how they impact your business.

1. Executive Exemption: This exemption applies to certain supervisory or executive employees. To qualify, an employee must be salaried, earning more than the minimum wage for all hours worked, have supervisory authority over at least two full-time staff, and spend most of their workweek in managerial duties.

2. Administrative Exemption: Administrative employees may be exempt if they are salaried, earn above the minimum wage for all hours worked, support an executive, participate in key decision-making processes, and engage in duties that are non-manual and crucial to business operations or management policies.

3. Professional Exemption: Salaried professionals who earn above the minimum wage and work in a specialized field requiring advanced knowledge or creative talent may be exempt. However, this does not apply to certain professions like doctors, lawyers, and teachers concerning the salary criterion.

4. Outside Salesman Exemption: Employees primarily engaged in off-site sales activities, who spend most of their workweek in these roles, are exempt.

5. Computer Employee Exemption: This covers highly specialized computer roles such as system analysts, programmers, and software engineers who meet certain salary or hourly rate criteria and devote most of their workweek to specific computer-related tasks.

6. Other Minimum Wage and Overtime Exemptions: This broad category includes business owners, taxi drivers, in-residence workers, agricultural workers under specific conditions, and more.

7. Overtime Only Exemptions: Some employees are only exempt from overtime but not from minimum wage rules. This includes certain retail salespersons, mechanics, ski industry employees, medical transport workers, and direct support professionals.

These exemptions are unique to Colorado and may differ from federal exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers and employees must be aware of state and federal laws to ensure complete compliance.

Colorado Minimum Wage & Labor Law Posters

For business owners in Colorado, staying compliant with state labor laws is a top priority, including the proper display of labor law posters. These informative posters are a legal requirement and serve a vital role in communicating employees’ rights under state labor laws, including details about the minimum wage in Colorado.

The specific posters required for your business can vary depending on the nature of your operations and other factors. It’s crucial to stay updated on these requirements to ensure you’re meeting your legal obligations. 

To obtain the most current and relevant information tailored to your situation, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment your go-to resource. Their website offers comprehensive guidance and resources for employers regarding the necessary labor law posters. They can also address any compliance questions you might have, ensuring your business stays informed and adheres to all pertinent regulations.

How Will the Minimum Wage Increase Impact My Business?

The upcoming increase in the minimum wage for 2024 will undoubtedly affect various aspects of business operations, particularly labor costs and employment strategies.

Rising Operating Costs

One of the immediate effects of the minimum wage hike is the increase in operating costs. This change is especially significant for small businesses with limited financial buffers. To cope with these higher expenses, many businesses may need to raise the prices of their products or services to remain profitable.

Hiring and Employment Decisions

With higher wages comes a shift in employment dynamics. Businesses might find themselves unable to sustain the same number of employees as before, potentially leading to a reduction in workforce. Additionally, there's a growing inclination to hire more experienced or skilled workers who can justify the higher pay, which could limit job opportunities for those seeking entry-level positions.

Economic Effects

The debate on the economic impact of raising the minimum wage is ongoing. Proponents argue that it boosts consumer spending, thus stimulating the economy. However, detractors believe it can strain businesses, particularly those still recovering from economic challenges, potentially leading to a contraction in employment rather than growth.

Implications for Restaurant Owners

Labor Costs

The increase in the Colorado minimum wage will directly affect labor costs. This could significantly escalate payroll expenses, especially for restaurants that employ many minimum-wage workers. Business owners may need to reassess staffing and operational hours to maintain financial stability.

Pricing Strategies

To balance the heightened labor costs, modifying menu prices might become a necessity. However, this should be approached with caution. Overpricing can drive customers away, particularly in areas with high competition. It's a delicate balance between covering costs and retaining customer loyalty.

Operational Efficiency

The new wage standards could serve as a catalyst for restaurant owners to explore technological advancements or process optimizations. These improvements can increase operational efficiency, possibly reducing the dependency on labor, and offset some of the increased wage expenses.

Employee Morale and Retention

On a positive note, a higher minimum wage could boost employee morale and decrease turnover. The benefits of having a stable, satisfied workforce cannot be understated, as it reduces the costs and disruptions associated with frequent hiring and training.

How Can I Prepare My Business for the Minimum Wage Increase?

The upcoming adjustment in Colorado’s minimum wage in 2024 is poised to bring challenges and opportunities for business owners, particularly in the restaurant sector. Preparing for this change is key to maintaining compliance and profitability. Here are essential strategies to consider:

1. Financial Assessment and Budgeting

Begin with a detailed financial review. Examine how the higher minimum wage will affect your payroll costs. Update your budget to reflect this change, balancing labor costs with revenue. Consider your busiest hours and seasonal staff requirements in your planning.

2. Embracing Restaurant Technology

Adopting restaurant technology is a strategic move to offset the financial impact of the minimum wage increase. Implementing automated online ordering, tableside POS systems, kiosks, QR code menus, and integrated third-party delivery can significantly reduce the need for manpower, thereby optimizing labor costs. These technologies not only streamline operations but also enhance customer experience, leading to potential increases in revenue.

3. Training and Employee Retention

Enhance staff efficiency and productivity through comprehensive training. Multiskilled employees can reduce the need for additional staff. Also, focus on retaining experienced employees to lower costs related to hiring and training new personnel.

4. Menu and Service Adjustments

Adjust your menu prices carefully to account for increased labor expenses. Ensure that the quality of your offerings matches any price hikes. Additionally, consider diversifying your menu or introducing special promotions to attract more customers.

5. Legal Compliance and Record-Keeping

Stay abreast of the legal requirements regarding the minimum wage increase. Update your payroll systems accordingly and keep precise wages and working hours records to prevent legal issues.

6. Exploring Alternative Revenue Streams

Diversify your income sources to cushion the impact of higher labor costs. Options like catering, online delivery, or hosting private events can provide supplementary income to offset wage expenses.

7. Community Engagement and Marketing

Build a strong connection with your local community and utilize social media for effective marketing. A robust community presence can enhance customer loyalty and attract new patrons, increasing revenue.

8. Seeking Professional Advice

Consult financial advisors or industry experts for guidance. Professional advice can be invaluable in managing wage increases and overall business operations efficiently.

By taking these steps, you can effectively prepare your business for the Colorado minimum wage increase in 2024, ensuring that your restaurant or business not only complies with the new standards but also thrives in the face of these changes.

To help you manage the challenges and opportunities presented by minimum wage adjustments, consider booking a free demo or consultation for Chowbus POS. Our restaurant technology solutions are designed to manage your business efficiently, saving you time and cost. With Chowbus POS, we can help reduce your monthly labor expenses by over $8,000 and boost your business growth by 25%, ensuring you stay ahead in the competitive restaurant industry.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Minimum Wage in Colorado

Explore the following frequently asked questions to gain a comprehensive understanding of minimum wage regulations in Colorado for 2023 and related topics.

What is Colorado Minimum Wage 2023?

As of 2023, the minimum wage in Colorado is $13.65 per hour for non-tipped employees. For tipped employees, the minimum wage is $10.63 per hour, provided tips bring the total hourly wage up to the standard minimum. This rate reflects an annual adjustment to account for cost-of-living changes.

Is the Colorado Minimum Wage Going Up?

Yes, Colorado's minimum wage is set to increase. This change is part of an ongoing effort to adjust the wage in accordance with the cost of living and inflation rates. Each year, the state reviews and adjusts the minimum wage to ensure it aligns with current economic conditions, providing workers with a wage that reflects the cost of living in Colorado.

How Many Hours Can a 15-Year-Old Work in Colorado?

In Colorado, 15-year-olds who fall under minors under 16 are permitted to work up to 40 hours per week, but not more than 8 hours in a single day. During school weeks, they’re limited to 18 hours. 

On school days, they can work 3 hours (6 hours if the next day is a non-school day), but not during school hours unless they have a school release permit. On non-school days and during school breaks, they can work up to 8 hours daily. 

The work hours are generally restricted to between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM during the school year, extending to 9:00 PM from June 1 to Labor Day. Night work between 9:30 PM and 5:00 AM is prohibited unless the following day is not a school day.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post regarding the minimum wage in Colorado is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be taken as such. While we strive to present the most current and accurate information, please be aware that minimum wage laws and regulations are subject to change. Therefore, we recommend consulting with a qualified legal or financial advisor to obtain advice specific to your situation. The content of this blog may not reflect the most recent legal or professional developments in the field. Reliance on any information this blog provides is solely at your own risk.

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