An overview of the minimum wage requirement in Michigan

To ensure they are receiving a fair living wage, employers in Michigan are required by law to pay their employees a minimum rate for each hour of work.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the civilian labor force in Michigan was 4,843,800 in October of 2016. People who are employed in the state are entitled by law to receive a living wage for their work. In order to help ensure they are not taken advantage of, it is important for employees to understand the state's wage-and-hour laws.

What is the minimum wage?

As of January 1, 2017, Michigan employers are required to pay their employees at least $8.90 for every hour of work. While still inadequate for most people, this is higher than the federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25, so most employees in Michigan must be paid the higher state-mandated minimum wage.

The Michigan minimum wage is scheduled to increase again on January 1, 2018, to $9.25 per hour. Even at this level, however, it will continue to be difficult for those earning minimum wage to make ends meet, considering the high costs of housing, food, insurance, medical care, prescriptions, child care and other necessities. It is especially hard to survive on minimum wage for workers with children.

Across the nation and in Michigan, advocates for a livable minimum wage are pushing for the $15.00 per hour level, through such groups as Fight for $15, Detroit 15 and others. Through such collective action, pressure will continue on state and federal lawmakers to provide adequate wage relief to all.

In the meantime, there are several exceptions to the state's current wage requirements. For example, workers who receive tips may be paid a reduced rate of $3.38 per hour. This is the case provided their total earnings average out to at least the minimum wage. Additionally, employers may pay 16-year-old to 19-year-old employees a training wage of $4.25 for the first 90 days of their employment. Workers between the ages of 16 and 17 may be paid $7.57, or 85 percent of the minimum wage, for each hour they work.

Are there limits on the number of hours worked per week?

For workers who are 18 or older, there are no restrictions on the number of hours they may work during a given week. Rather, this decision is left up to their discretion and availability and needs of their employers. Employees under 18 who are attending school are not permitted to work more than 24 hours in a single work week while school is in session.

Although employees may be scheduled to work an unlimited number of hours each week, they must receive added compensation if they work over a set amount. For each additional hour of work over 40 hours, workers must be paid one and one-half times their normal pay rate. The overtime pay rule does not, however, apply to certain exempt employees.

How are the wage and hour laws enforced?

If workers are not being paid in accordance with the law, they may make a formal complaint with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Based on an investigation into the matter, the department may file a civil claim on the employee's behalf for the recovery of the unpaid wages and other damages. Workers may also choose to take legal action themselves.

When people in Michigan are not paid appropriately, their ability to provide for themselves and their families may be affected. Therefore, if workers believe their employers are violating the state's wage and hour law, it may benefit them to seek legal counsel. An attorney may explain their rights and options, as well as guide them through the formal complaint or civil action process.