$15 Minimum Wage Starts In Chicago July 1

$15 Minimum Wage Starts In Chicago July 1


CHICAGO — The minimum wage for Chicago workers is set to increase on Thursday, but whether employees see their hourly pay rate go up to $15 is dependent on where they work and, in some cases, what they do.

The city council approved the July 1 increase date in 2019, making Chicago the first city in Illinois to reach the $15 per hour rate. Illinois’ minimum wage rage jumped to $11 in January and will reach the $15 minimum wage rage with a $1 increase each January until 2025 after Gov. JB Pritzker signed the bill into law in 2019.

However, not all Chicago businesses will increase their rate of pay for employees on Thursday. The measure approved by the city council in 2019 called for businesses with 20 or fewer employees to reach the $15 mark by 2023 while businesses with four or fewer workers are exempt.

For now, city businesses that employee 20 or fewer people will increase their hourly rate to $14.25, giving them an extra two years to reach the $15 rate.

For restaurant servers and other workers who receive tips as part of their compensation, the hourly minimum wage jumped from $6.40 an hour to $8.40 an hour last year for those working in places with 21 or more employees and $8.20 an hour for restaurants with four to 20 workers. That rate is set to jump to $9 per hour on Thursday, and the measure passed by the city council last year stated that if tips do not get servers to the set rate of minimum wage for other city workers, their employer must make up the difference.

Employees who are paid under city contracts or under concessionaire agreements will be paid $14.15 an hour and $7.65 an hour for tipped employees.

The city’s increase will also not be felt in other parts of Cook County, where the hourly minimum wage rage jumped to $13 on Jan. 1 along with the jump in pay for other workers across Illinois. The next increase for Cook County will occur on Jan. 1, 2022, when the rate will increase to $14.

The rate is different from a written notice that was provided to workers across Cook County. Hourly employees were initially told that they would see a bump in pay in July like they did last year. Instead, the City of Chicago is the only municipality where the rate will change this week.

Tipped workers at Cook County restaurants outside of Chicago will continue to be compensated at a rate of $6.60 an hour, which was raised to meet the state minimum wage rate.

A University of Illinois study last year showed that more than 1.4 million hourly workers across the state make less than $15 an hour. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan directed city officials to study the impact of tipped wages on working-class families and called for the city to revisit the issue down the road.

The Chicago Tribune reported at the time that Lightfoot’s office stated that increasing the hourly rate to $15 starting July 1 would be too dramatic of a shift, especially for smaller restaurants – many of which have struggled throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The mayor’s plan also eliminates exemptions to the minimum wage for workers with disabilities, workers under the age of 18, agricultural workers and those who are part of transitional employment programs.

Under the plan, workers with disabilities will need to be at the city’s minimum wage rate by 2024 while youth under 18 — who had been earning $7.75 an hour will need to be paid $10 an hour by July 1 of this year and the full minimum wage by 2025.

Despite facing criticism for not including tipped workers in the jump to $15 an hour, Lightfoot said at a news conference last year that she felt like her plan was equitable and that working-class families would get a “well-deserved raise.”

“We built the policy the right way, bringing everyone to the table — businesses, community groups and working families alike,” the mayor said in 2019.

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