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Understanding the Wisconsin Minimum Wage

This article doesn’t constitute legal advice. Please consult a lawyer or accountant in your state to learn more about minimum wage legislation as it applies to your business.

It may seem as if every year the minimum wage is changing. As a small business owner in Wisconsin, this may leave you wondering what you’re supposed to pay your employees.

To help clear up any confusion, we’ve put together this quick guide to help you understand the Wisconsin minimum wage.

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What is the minimum wage in Wisconsin?

The minimum wage rate in Wisconsin matches the federal minimum wage which is currently $7.25 per hour. This has been the minimum wage since 2008, when it increased from $6.50

Tipped employees and opportunity employees qualify for a special minimum wage. Tipped employees can earn $2.33 per hour and opportunity employees can earn $5.90 per hour. Opportunity employees are workers under 20 years old who have worked for less than 90 days with their current employer. Given Wisconsin’s large farming contingent and outdoor activities, there are a few other special minimum wage rules.

Keep in mind that counties, cities, and towns may have their own minimum wage laws. Be sure to check which Wisconsin minimum wage laws may apply to you.

Are there plans to change the minimum wage?

There are no plans to raise the minimum wage, which has been set since 2009. However, the majority of Wisconsin residents do support raising the minimum wage. If the federal minimum wage goes up in the coming years, and as other states push toward a $15 minimum wage, Wisconsin could be affected but the Wisconsin minimum wage in 2021 will remain $7.25 for now.

How should small business owners prepare for potential changes to the minimum wage?

Even though it may not seem like there are any immediate plans to raise the Wisconsin minimum wage, it is still beneficial to be prepared in case there is a change. Here are a few options you may want to consider:

  • Audit your expenses: Check your cash flow in detail and create a hiring plan that you can afford. In some cases, you may find that hiring temporary workers as needed is less expensive than taking on full-time regular staff. Think of seasonal work on a farm, or peak golf season at a golf course.
  • Make sure you hire and keep the right employees: Replacing an employee can cost a lot. You can decrease the total cost associated with recruiting and training when you hire (and then retain) the right people to do the job. Look for candidates with good track records, who come recommended, and who fit in with the company culture. Once employees are onboarded, make sure you build a relationship and provide paths for employee growth; this it makes it more likely that they will stay in their role.
  • Update tech: Consider automating certain aspects of the work and find ways to reduce production costs. Automated payroll software, for instance, cuts down on the time you spend paying your employees, and the payroll features of Square’s system make the whole process a breeze. It also includes small business pricing to fit every budget.

Consider automating certain aspects of the work and find ways to reduce production costs. Automated payroll software, for instance, cuts down on the time you spend paying your employees, and the payroll features of Square’s system make the whole process a breeze. It also includes small business pricing to fit every budget.

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As always, to make sure your business is prepared and stays in compliance, you should discuss Wisconsin’s minimum wage laws with your accountant and lawyer.