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Arkansas Minimum Wage Increase Effective January 1, 2017

On January 1, 2017, Arkansas’s minimum wage will increase to $8.50 per hour, per a ballot initiative passed in 2014. The Arkansas Minimum Wage Initiative has raised the Arkansas minimum wage at graduated intervals between 2015 and 2017. The minimum wage rate was increased from $6.25 to $7.50 in 2015, from $7.50 to $8.00 in 2016, and it will rise once again from $8.00 to $8.50 on January 1, 2017.  The Arkansas Minimum Wage Act applies to employers who employ four or more employees. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and has not increased since July 2009. With that said, this year the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) enacted legislation that requires employers with federal contracts to pay employees at least $10.20 per hour, beginning January 1, 2017. Likewise, tipped employees connected to federal contracts must be paid a cash wage of at least $6.80 per hour. Currently, 29 states, including Arkansas, have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour). When the state minimum wage rate is higher than the federal rate, employers are required to pay non-exempt employees the higher amount. With both federal and state wage and hour litigation continuing to climb, employers are encouraged to speak with an attorney about any wage and hour questions or concerns.  It is important to strategically plan and review wage and hour compliance to help reduce exposure to costly liability. If you have questions about your wage and hour practices and policies, please contact an attorney with our firm.