Minimum Wage Increase

Nevada employers face a fast-approaching deadline to implement new minimum wage requirements passed by voters.

State Labor Commissioner Michael Tanchek said the new rules, which boost Nevada's minimum wage by $1 to $6.15 an hour, take effect Nov. 28.

But the constitutional amendment also includes other provisions that businesses might not be aware of, Tanchek said. "This is so new and complicated," he said. "Over the long run, we're going to have to see how this stuff is going to get interpreted."

The amendment sets up a two-tiered minimum wage system in Nevada. Employers who offer a qualified health insurance plan to their
minimum-wage employees can continue to pay $5.15 an hour, whether
or not employees take the health plan. Employers who don't offer a
qualified plan will have to pay at least $6.15 an hour.

A qualified plan is defined as one where employees and their dependents are covered at a cost to the employee that does not exceed 10 percent of the employee's gross taxable income.

That means, health insurance for an employee who makes about
$10,000 a year must cost less than $1,000.

When voters approved Question 6 on Tuesday, they probably didn't
know they were also approving a change in overtime pay, Tanchek

Current Nevada law requires employers to pay overtime for more
than 40 hours worked in a week. Under the new law, workers who are offered the health insurance plan by their employer will be entitled to overtime on a daily basis for hours worked over 8 if they make less than $7.73 an hour, Tanchek said.

Employees not offered a health plan will have to be paid daily overtime if their hourly rate is less than $9.23 an hour. "Daily overtime is triggered by the minimum-wage rate," Tanchek said.

Nevada's overtime law is often seen as an incentive for new businesses. Tim Rubald, executive director of the Nevada Commission on Economic Development, said he doesn't expect the change to make a
difference in the state's efforts to attract and retain big business.

"The businesses we look at don't pay anything close to minimum wage, they pay five times that," Rubald said. "The businesses we deal with are paying $20 an hour on average, so I don't think it will affect recruitment."

Steve Forester, general manager of Casino Fandango, said the
change will only slightly affect his company. "Typically, the minimum wage positions would be dealers, bar tenders and servers, but we're pretty much paying more than that," he said.

Besides the health coverage provision, the only exemption from the minimum wage requirement is for workers under the age of 18 who
are employed by a nonprofit organization for the summer or after school, or employed as trainees for less than 90 days.

Domestic service employees, outside salespersons, agricultural workers, taxicab and limousine drivers, casual baby-sitters and
severely handicapped persons with state employment certificates are
no longer exempt from the minimum wage law, Tanchek said.