Are you being paid minimum wage?

Feb. 1, 2021

When you were first hired, you may have jumped on the job because you needed the money — any money. But have you taken the time to make sure you're being paid at least the minimum wage? If not, how can you bring up the subject with your employer? Here are tips to help.

If you're an employer, check out this article: Are You Paying Your Caregiver Minimum Wage?

Why is minimum wage important for caregivers?

Most employers and families put a lot of effort into finding and hiring the best possible nanny, tutor, housekeeper, etc. Considering this, it’s surprising that so many caregivers aren’t being paid what they’re worth. You deserve to earn a living wage — and the minimum wage laws were enacted to help ensure that happens.

“Federal, state and local governments are very sensitive to worker rights,” says Tom Breedlove, Sr. Director of Home Pay. “Employees can file wage disputes if they’re not being paid at least the required minimum wage.”

Do I qualify for minimum wage?

Yes, nearly every worker is required to be paid minimum wage. There are some exceptions, such as senior care workers that only provide companionship services. But the general rule of thumb is that if you are working for a family caring for a loved one, you should be earning at least minimum wage for each hour you work.

Should I be paid the state or federal minimum wage?

Household workers such as nannies and housekeepers must be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, under the Fair Labor Standards Act. There are several states that have higher minimum wage rates, and if you work in a state where the minimum wage requirement is more than $7.25, you should be paid at the higher rate.

Even some cities (such as San Francisco and New York City) also have their own minimum wage laws, which trump the federal and state rates when they are higher.

What is the minimum wage in my state?

Here's a list of what employees should be paid in each state, as of January 1, 2021.

  • Alabama: $7.25/hour
  • Alaska: $7.25/hour
  • Arizona: $12.15/hour
    • Some cities have a different minimum wage rate. HomePay has the details here.
  • Arkansas: $7.25/hour
  • California: $13.00/hour
    • Several cities have a different minimum wage rate. Check HomePay for the details here.
  • Colorado: $12.32/hour
    • Some cities have a different minimum wage rate. Visit the HomePay website for the details here.
  • Connecticut: $12.00/hour
  • Delaware: $7.25/hour
  • District of Columbia: $15.00/hour
  • Florida: $8.65/hour
  • Georgia: $7.25/hour
  • Hawaii: $10.10/hour
  • Idaho: $7.25/hour
  • Illinois: $11.00/hour
    • Some cities and counties have a different minimum wage rate. Visit HomePay for the details here.
  • Indiana: $7.25/hour
  • Iowa: $7.25/hour
  • Kansas: $7.25/hour
  • Kentucky: $7.25/hour
  • Louisiana: $7.25/hour
  • Maine: $12.15/hour
  • Maryland: $11.60/hour
    • Some counties have a different minimum wage rate. HomePay has these rates listed here.
  • Massachusetts: $13.50/hour
  • Michigan: $9.65/hour (only if the family has 2 or more employees. Otherwise, minimum wage is $7.25/hour)
  • Minnesota: $8.21/hour
  • Mississippi: $7.25/hour
  • Missouri: $7.25/hour
  • Montana: $8.75/hour
  • Nebraska: $7.25/hour
  • Nevada: $9.00/hour
  • New Hampshire: $7.25/hour
  • New Jersey: $11.10/hour
  • New Mexico: $7.25/hour
  • New York: $12.50/hour
    • Some cities and counties have different minimum wage rates. Visit HomePay for the details here.
  • North Carolina: $7.25/hour
  • North Dakota: $7.25/hour
  • Ohio: $7.25/hour
  • Oklahoma: $7.25/hour
  • Oregon: Minimum wage varies from $11.50/hour to $13.25/hour depending on where you live. Visit HomePay to see the specific details here.
  • Pennsylvania: $7.25/hour
  • Rhode Island: $7.25/hour
  • South Carolina: $7.25/hour
  • South Dakota: $9.45/hour
  • Tennessee: $7.25/hour
  • Texas: $7.25/hour
  • Utah: $7.25/hour
  • Vermont: $7.25/hour
  • Virginia: $7.25/hour
  • Washington: $13.69/hour
    • Some cities have different minimum wage rates. HomePay has the details here.
  • West Virginia: $7.25/hour
  • Wisconsin: $7.25/hour
  • Wyoming: $7.25/hour

How should I discuss minimum wage with my employer?

Some people feel uncomfortable talking about money with their employer or don't know how to start the conversation. But don't feel guilty about asking to be compensated fairly.

If you're negotiating your pay for a new job, come armed with information such as the going rate in your area. Having that figure will give you and your employer a starting point for negotiations. If you're going to be paid a flat weekly or monthly rate, do the math to figure out what you're earning hourly — and that it's at least the minimum wage.

Did you just realize you're not making minimum wage for a job you've held for a while? Talk to your employer about an increase. Read more about how to ask for a raise.

“Talking about money with your employer can be awkward, but remember you’re also helping them comply with the law,” says Breedlove. “And if the family pays you legally, they can take advantage of tax breaks to alleviate some of their employer costs.”

Next Steps

Read next: 4 tricky salary situations to discuss

* The information contained in this article should not be used for any actual nanny relationship without the advice and guidance of a professional advisor who is familiar with all the relevant facts. The information contained herein is general in nature and is not intended as legal, tax or investment advice. Furthermore, the information contained herein may not be applicable to or suitable for your specific circumstances and may require consideration of other matters.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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