As of the new year, Massachusetts has one of the highest minimum wages in the country. It took years of fighting for the price hike to happen, and it comes as we are dealing with the highest inflation in decades.
The minimum wage in the Bay State is now $15 per hour, trailing only Washington D.C., which has a minimum wage of $16.10 per hour.
The minimum wage increase, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, is part of a bill that also called for an annual August sales tax holiday and paid leave for workers. Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill into law back during the summer of 2018.
Here's what to know about the minimum wage increase:
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The law that passed
In 2018, Massachusetts passed a law where minimum wage would increase by a dollar per hour every year until it reached $15 per hour in 2023.
Who benefits from the law
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Employees' minimum wage is $15 per hour starting Jan. 1, 2023. One estimate says it will increase the wages of one quarter of the Massachusetts' workforce.
Tipped employees will also be getting a raise to $6.75 per hour in 2023. If the total hourly rate does not add up to $15 per hour, the employer must make up the difference.
Who it does not apply to
The minimum wage applies to all employees except agricultural workers, for most of whom the minimum wage is $8, members of a religious order, workers being trained in certain educational, nonprofit, or religious organizations and outside salespeople.
What to do if the law is not being followed
If you believe your rights have been violated in the workplace, you should call the Fair Labor Hotline at 617-727-3465 or file a complaint online here.
During the Fiscal Year 2022, the Fair Labor Division assessed more than $11.8 million in restitution and penalties against employers on behalf of working people in Massachusetts.
For all state wage and labor laws you can find more information here:
What businesses are saying
The minimum wage is now $15 an hour -- up from $14.15. Some say that's still not enough, but it can be a challenge for businesses in a tough economic climate.
NBC10 Boston spoke to business owners who were all for the increase.
As the oldest hardware store in Boston, the folks at Roslindale Hardware know something about business.
"I have always paid above minimum wage, I think it’s the right thing to do," Josef Porteleki said. "It keeps employees happy, makes them good workers and makes it a pleasant place to work."
The recent wage increase was signed into effect back in June 2018. Factoring in inflation, $12.70 in 2018 equals the $15 today.
Jon Hurst, the president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, says he's concerned about the mandatory wage hike's impact on small businesses, and if mom and pop stores can survive.
"Every small business needs one of two things, either higher sales or lower costs," he said. "The reality is those two objectives are going in the opposite directions."
Merritt Mulman owns the Pet Cabaret in Roslindale and a dog grooming business on Newbury Street. He, too, already pays more than minimum wage. For him, it makes "purr-fect" business sense.
"So as a small business owner, is it tough? Sure. Is it my obligation? Absolutely," he said. "It’s the culture of our community. I am proud to live in Massachusetts and have two business in Boston and I am proud to pay people an appropriate wage, as well."
The retailers association says we should let the economy shake out a bit before examining a higher minimum wage.