Delaware Minimum Wage Increases to $7.15 January 1, 2008

Effective January 1, 2008 the Delaware state minimum wage will increase by 50 cents from $6.65 per hour to $7.15 per hour.

In 2006, the Delaware state legislature passed a bill that was signed into law by Governor Ruth Ann Minner to increase the state rate from $6.15 per hour.

The first step of the increase went into effect on January 1, 2007 when the state minimum wage rose by 50 cents to $6.65 per hour. This is the second and final tier in that increase.

According to the Delaware state website, this change will affect 6,700 workers, which is approximately 1.6% of the state workforce. About 66% of those workers are in the foodservice industry.

Earlier this year, the federal minimum wage was increased from $5.15 per hour to $5.85 per hour. This was the first increase in the federal rate in more than a decade. However, because the state minimum wage is higher, most employers in the Delaware are obligated to pay the state rate to all employees.

The Delaware minimum wage applies to companies within the state with more than 10 employees.

A number of industries in the First State are exempt from the state minimum wage laws. These include agriculture and employees of the U.S. government. Employees in the fishing industry, and those who process fish at sea, are exempt from the state minimum wage.

Outside salespeople who are paid on commission are exempt from the state minimum wage, although inside salespeople are not. Junior camp counselors may be paid less than the minimum wage, only if they are employed by a non-profit summer camp. Inmates in a Department of Corrections program may be paid less than the state minimum wage.

Employees engaged in domestic service in or “about” private homes are exempt from the state’s minimum wage law, as are volunteers.

The state of Delaware does exempt several classes of workers from the state minimum wage. Mentally or physically disabled workers in sheltered workshops may be paid less than the minimum wage. Some disabled workers in competitive employment may also be paid less than the minimum wage. A special minimum wage applies to those enrolled in a formal apprenticeship program, and to student-learners. In all cases, the employer and/or the worker must be certified by the Delaware Department of Labor for the lower wage to be legal.

Under Delaware law, employees who receive tips may be paid as little as $2.23 per hour, provided they average at least $4.92 per hour in tips. If an employee earns less than $4.92 per hour for a shift, the employer must pay the difference, to ensure the employee is earning at least the minimum wage. By law, the employer cannot retain tips. Up to 15% of tips may be pooled under certain circumstances. This law has been in effect in the state since October 1, 1996.

The Department of Labor collects unpaid wages and benefits on behalf of workers in Delaware.

In general, under Delaware state law, wages must be paid to employees at least once per month. With a few exceptions, workers must be paid wages within 7 days of the end of the pay period. Any employee who is not present will be paid by mail (if requested by the employee), or on the next workday where the employee is present.

An employer who pays by check in Delaware must make arrangements for payroll checks to be cashed at a bank or other business convenient to the workplace. If an employee requests (in writing), wages may be paid directly into the employees bank account by direct deposit.

Whenever an employee quits, resigns or is fired, suspended or laid off, wages must be paid on the next regularly scheduled payday. This may be done in the usual manner, or, if the employee requests, by mail.

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