DENVER – All city employees and some contractors working for the city must now follow Denver’s new minimum wage law, and as of today, Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien and his new Minimum Wage Division will work to enforce the new requirements.
“People working for Denver deserve to earn enough to make a living,” Auditor O’Brien said. “My team is prepared to take on enforcement of this important new law, alongside our existing work enforcing the prevailing wage.”
The Denver City Council, with the support of labor groups and Mayor Michael Hancock, approved the minimum wage law in March. Under this new law, all city employees must be paid at least $13 an hour starting July 1, 2019. In 2020, that minimum will increase to $14 on July 1, and it will go up to $15 per hour on July 1, 2021. After that, the minimum wage will adjust annually on July 1 based on the prior year’s regional Consumer Price Index.
This minimum wage law applies to city employees and city contractors, as well as subcontractors working for the city. This is not a citywide minimum wage. Only work performed on or after July 1, 2019, is eligible for the new minimum wage and subject to enforcement.
For contractors, eligibility depends on the details of a city contract, including terms and contract amount.
“Ensuring the city follows the new minimum wage in paying city employees should be simple, because we have direct access to city payrolls,” Auditor O’Brien said. “However, it will be more complicated to enforce the minimum wage for contractors working on Denver projects.”
The minimum wage law operates on a complaint-based enforcement system. Our minimum wage investigators will work alongside our existing prevailing wage investigators to follow up when workers report making less than the minimum wage.
Workers can submit wage complaints to the Minimum Wage Division by filling out a form online, by emailing email@example.com or by calling 720-913-5039. More information and assistance with complaints is available at our website: denverauditororg/minimumwage.
Investigators will consider the minimum wage, prevailing wage, and living wage when auditing payrolls. Denver contractors will be expected to pay the highest amount of the three, depending on what applies to that particular type of work.
The Auditor’s Office has enforced prevailing wage through payroll auditing since 1950. In 2015, Auditor O’Brien worked with labor and contractor groups to update Denver’s Prevailing Wage Ordinance. The prevailing wage team now reviews millions of dollars’ worth of certified payrolls. Last year, the Prevailing Wage Division audited more than 57,000 payrolls and saw a 9% increase in employees paid correctly. Prevailing wage applies to anyone working on a Denver-funded project or on Denver property. Investigators look into 100% of complaints filed with our office.
“We are not a gotcha organization,” Executive Director of Prevailing Wage Jeffrey Garcia said. “We are here to work with both employers and employees to encourage compliance and help workers get paid according to both prevailing wage and now minimum wage requirements.”
Similarly, our office will also investigate minimum wage complaints. The new contractor minimum wage will be added to any future contracts for city work including concessions, catering, maintenance, ramp and cargo work at Denver International Airport (such as passenger, baggage, and cargo loading and unloading), hospitality, security, and other jobs on city property or for city agencies.
The contractor minimum wage is different from the state’s minimum wage laws. Colorado passed a law allowing some municipalities to set a separate minimum wage; however, that change has not been made in Denver at this time.
The Auditor’s Office may fine employers for noncompliance with Denver’s minimum wage requirements or for failure to cooperate with an investigation.
However, Auditor O’Brien and the minimum wage investigators will also work to educate employers and avoid the need for complaints.
“I hope we don’t receive any complaints,” Auditor O’Brien said. “Education is key to compliance. However, we are ready to make sure Denver workers are paid according to the law, should a complaint arise.”