Farmers would have to pay employees minimum wage under bill advancing in Virginia House


Legislation that would subject farmers to paying the state minimum wage advanced Thursday out of a Virginia House committee.

Virginia law does not require farmers to pay employees or laborers the full state minimum wage. Instead, these employers are subject to paying either the federal minimum wage or 75% of the state minimum wage, whichever is higher.

House Bill 1786, sponsored by Del. Jeion Ward, D-Hampton, would remove the farmer exemption and subject such employers to paying the state minimum wage, which is set to increase over the next few years.

Although the General Assembly postponed the minimum wage increase because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic restrictions, the rate is set to increase from the current $7.75 an hour on May 1. In May, the rate will become $9.50 an hour, and it will increase to $11 an hour Jan. 1 and $12 an hour Jan. 1, 2023.

The minimum wage could increase to $13.50 by 2025 and $15 by 2026, but the General Assembly would have to take action to approve those increases. If the state does not take action, the $12 minimum wage would be tied to inflation.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. President Joe Biden has proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The House Labor and Commerce Committee voted 13-9 to advance the bill.

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