Colorado Wage Laws

Colorado employers are well aware of the state laws when it comes to employee compensation. At least they should be. Unless an employee is exempt from the provisions of the Colorado minimum wage laws, they are required to pay all adult employees at least equal to the minimum wage.

Effective Jan. 1, 2015, Colorado's minimum wage increased to $8.23 per hour and $5.21 per hour for tipped employees. In 2014, the minimum wage was $8.00 and $4.98 for tipped employees. The minimum wage, per the Colorado Constitution, is adjusted each year for inflation.

Employees who are eligible, and find that they have not been paid at least the state's minimum wage amount, have a right to file a written complaint stating the alleged violations with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. In addition, they can secure an attorney and fight for any back wages owed to them.

If an employee is subject to both state and federal minimum wage laws, the highest of the two shall be paid. Currently, for 2015, the federal minimum wage is $7.25. Since Colorado's minimum wage is higher, employees shall be paid per the Colorado minimum wage law.

Who Is Exempt From Being Paid the Minimum Wage?

Currently, the following positions are considered exempt:

  • Administrative employees directly serving an executive; this position is salaried and performs decision-making and independent judgments important to the executive
  • Executives or supervisors who are salaried and earn in excess of the minimum wage; this position spends at least 50 percent of their time supervising at least two full-time employees
  • Professionals working in fields requiring an advanced knowledge of a specialized subject; these positions are usually salaried employees with the exception of doctors, lawyers, teachers, and those in technical computer jobs earning a minimum of $27.63 per hour
  • Outside salespersons who work a minimum of 80 percent of their week away from their place of business in activities pertaining to their own sales
  • Domestic employees such as housekeepers of private homes
  • Companions such as those who sit with the elderly
  • Casual babysitters in private homes
  • Property managers
  • Interstate drivers, as well as driver helpers, loaders, and mechanics
  • Taxi drivers
  • Elected officials
  • Volunteers or interns
  • Prisoners

Are Minors Covered Under the Minimum Wage Law?

Minors who have not been emancipated may be compensated at $6.80 per hour; however, when they turn 18, they must be paid the minimum wage. Minors who have not been emancipated are subject to the Colorado Youth and Employment Opportunity Act, as well as the federal Fair Labor and Standards Act. Where conflict arises, the more stringent regulations of the two are applied.

Therefore, for Colorado, no employer can work an individual under the age of 18, who has not received a high school diploma or the equivalent GED, more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. Those under 16 years of age are not permitted to work in excess of three hours on any school day. On non-school days, they can work eight hours, but no more than 18 hours in a week during school session. Minors under 16 who are working "during school" hours must also have a permit issued by the superintendent of their school district.

Working hours allowed for those under 16 are between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. during school session. From June 1 to Labor Day, the hours are from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Exclusions would be those who are 16 or 17 years of age, as well as those working as actors, performers or models. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment website shows a side-by-side comparison of the CYEOA and FLSA regulations that apply to youth.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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