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DENVER – Contract workers on city projects doing work as flaggers, common laborers, traffic controllers, landscape laborers, security guards, and parking lot attendants, among others, will get paid more starting today as the contractor minimum wage increases from $13 per hour to $14 per hour.

“A pay increase for some of the most vulnerable workers in the city couldn’t come at a more necessary time,” Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA, said. “People need every dollar they can get in their paychecks — and this is one cost the city can cover.”

The contractor minimum wage applies only to work done on city property or on projects using city dollars. This minimum wage law applies to city employees and city contractors, as well as subcontractors working for the city. This is different from the citywide minimum wage, which remains $12.85 per hour throughout the entire City and County of Denver.

Denver Labor estimates 5,700 employees will see a wage increase this year. This includes security guards and parking lot attendants who were previously covered by the lower living wage requirements. Most employees impacted by the contractor minimum wage are workers at Denver International Airport.

“Our team is working harder than ever — even during the pandemic — to help hard-working employees at the airport and on other city projects get closer to a livable wage,” Denver Labor Executive Director Jeffrey Garcia said. “This required wage increase will help employees and shouldn’t hurt employers as the city covers the increased costs through the contracting process.”

The contractor minimum wage first took effect July 1, 2019, at $13 per hour. The city passed this wage law for city contracts and projects, because at that time, the state did not allow citywide minimum wage changes.

In 2019, more than 6,700 workers benefited from the $13-per-hour contractor minimum wage — particularly flaggers, common laborers, traffic controllers, landscape laborers, security guards, and parking lot attendants.

Many contracts with the city should already be updated to reflect the contractor minimum wage, so this planned increase should come as no surprise to employers. The wage will go up again to $15 on July 1, 2021.

“We use education first as we work with contractors and subcontractors to get workers paid,” Auditor O’Brien said. “Through education, investigation, and enforcement as needed, we ensure compliance with the law.”

City contractors who think they may be underpaid can file a complaint with our office in English or Spanish by filling out the form on our website. If other language services are needed, workers may contact us via email at wagecomplaints@denvergov.org or call 720-913-5039.

Denver Labor analysts will consider the contractor minimum wage, citywide minimum wage, prevailing wage, and living wage when auditing payrolls. Denver contractors are expected to pay the highest of the possible wages, depending on what applies to that type of work.

“We’re here to help employers and employees navigate all of Denver’s different wages laws,” Garcia said.

The Auditor’s Office has enforced wage laws through payroll auditing since 1950. In 2015, Auditor O’Brien worked with labor and contractor groups, as well as city leaders, to update the Prevailing Wage Ordinance. The Denver Labor team in the Auditor’s Office took on contractor minimum wage enforcement in July 2019, and the citywide minimum wage law took effect Jan. 1, 2020.

As the work has grown, so have Denver Labor’s efforts on behalf of the community. So far this year, Denver Labor analysts have collected more restitution for workers than any previous year.

Read more about how we’re helping workers get paid under the law for the work they do.

Read More About the Contractor Minimum Wage

Read More About the Citywide Minimum Wage

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