Living Wage to Get More Livable (But it May Not Matter)
More employment news! On Monday, the Department of Employment Services issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would raise the living wage from its current $12.10 a whole forty cents, to $12.50 per hour, retroactive to the beginning of the year. The level started at $11.75 in 2006, and has risen annually with the consumer price index.
Now, that's not what you'll get paid for all jobs in the District. The standard minimum wage is still $8.25, and the living wage only applies to workers on government contracts of $100,000 or more, with a number of exceptions. The District only last week issued rules on how the Living Wage Act is to be enforced–a recent report from the D.C. auditor found that there was essentially no proactive oversight of the Act.
According to DOES spokesman John Stokes, that's basically how things will continue to operate. Although the wage hike is retroactive, lump sums of owed back wages will only be paid to those filing claims with DOES. "We will look at each situation on a case by case basis," Stokes tells Housing Complex. "No application will go without investigation." The agency has received no claims on living wage violations to date.
On top of that, DOES doesn't expect the living wage hike to effect many workers. Most are already covered under the federal Service Contract Act, which sets minimum wages that are higher than $12.50 anyway for federal and District contracts. So, the takeaway: The city is giving you rights, but it's up to you to exercise them.