As the new year begins, so too does a new minimum wage rate for workers in Denver. Effective January 1st, 2023, the minimum wage in Denver has increased to $17.29 per hour. This increase is part of the city’s ongoing effort to ensure that all workers in Denver are protected by the city’s wage ordinances.
To help better educate workers and businesses about the new minimum wage rate, we’ve put together this article to answer some frequently asked questions.
Understanding the Ordinance
According to the ordinance, our team can open a minimum wage investigation based on a complaint from anyone. This includes workers, friends, family, community groups, or anonymous tips. Additionally, our team can also initiate proactive investigations of businesses and industries based on data trends and patterns.
The ordinance also protects workers from retaliation. Our team does its best to protect the identity of complaints and does not ask about things like immigration status. The minimum wage applies to all work performed in the city and county of Denver, regardless of who the worker is.
It’s important to note that the minimum wage rate applies to all work performed in Denver, regardless of where the employer’s main office is located. Employers can use the address finder tool on our website or check their tax records to see if they are paying Denver’s occupational privilege tax as a way to determine if the minimum wage rate applies to their business.
Investigations and Restitution
In 2022, our office investigated 81 minimum wage cases. 21 of the complaints came directly from the employee, 8 came from third parties, and 3 were anonymous. 49 cases were started through our active enforcement program. The total amount of restitution recovered under the minimum wage ordinance alone was more than $440,000, and our office’s total restitution amount for the year, including the prevailing wage, was more than $1.1 million dollars.
Our goal is to encourage cooperation from employers and often employers raise wages quickly once we inform them of underpayments. We know underpayments are most commonly the result of honest mistakes and not intentional wrongdoing. However, the ordinance does set a fine structure that allows us to discourage intentional underpayments, refusal to pay restitution, or repeat offenders.
Common Industries for Underpayments
Some of the most common industries where we see underpayments include national brand companies, restaurants, home care services, salons, parking companies, as well as businesses along the border of the city and county. Denver Labor’s goal is to protect Denver’s employers and employees and ensure everyone is paid according to the law. Some cases involve hundreds of workers and thousands of dollars, while others involve just one employee and a much smaller dollar amount. Every case matters to our team.
Denver’s minimum wage rate increase in 2023 means more workers than ever are protected by Denver’s wage ordinances. The city’s Department of Finance calculates the annual change based on the Consumer Price Index. Employers and workers can educate themselves about the new minimum wage rate by visiting the website of the city’s Department of Finance or by contacting the office directly.