Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Minimum Wage Definition:

The lowest allowable rate of pay as established by statute.

Related Terms: Wages, Freedom of Contract

Minimum wage is the lowest wage rate an employer can pay an employee. Most employees are eligible for minimum wage, whether they are full-time, part-time, casual employees, or are paid an hourly rate, commission, piece rate, flat rate or salary.

Some employees have jobs that are exempt from the minimum wage, the most commonly used examples being neighbourhood "babysitting".

It is a recognized impingement on the otherwise sacrosanct freedom of contract; disallowing employment agreements for hourly wages which are less than the statutory minimum rate: the minimum wage. At the same time, as the thought behind the public policy goes, the minimum protects vulnerable employees, especially young adults, from unfair and predatory hourly rates of pay.

Most jurisdictions, such as Canada and the United States, establish a minimum hourly rate of pay; a minimum wage; others, such as China and Russia set a minimum monthly wage.

For example, in the United States, employees are entitled to a minimum wage of not less than $6.55 per hour effective July 24, 2008; and $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009.1

In Canada, minimum wage is set by the individual provinces. In Ontario, for example, as of March 2009, the minimum wage was $9.50, set to increase to $10.25 as of April 1, 2010.

The Ontario Employment Standards Act, at §23:

"An employer shall pay employees at least the prescribed minimum wage."

French: salaire minimum.

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