County Council Approves Minimum Wage Law Adjustment

County Council Approves Minimum Wage Law Adjustment

Domestic workers will now be covered

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Starting July 1, every business in Montgomery County will be covered under the 2017 minimum wage law passed by the County Council, which incrementally increases the hourly rate to $15 per hour by 2024. The County Council voted unanimously at its meeting Tuesday to adjust the law so that it covers single-employee businesses, such as domestic workers.

By passing the minimum wage law last November, the council increased the rate to $15 per hour on an elongated timeline, depending on the size of the business, with businesses that employ more than 50 reaching that rate by 2021. Mid-size businesses with 11 to 50 workers would be required to pay $15 per hour by 2023, and businesses with 10 or fewer workers would reach that mark by 2024. But a loophole in the law left out businesses with only one worker.

“The employer size category of 10 or fewer actually didn’t include companies with one , and that is substantially household employers,” Riemer said in an interview Tuesday.

The schedule for wage increases in the county is as follows, starting July 1 of each year:

  • Large Businesses (more than 50 employees)
    • 2018 – $12.25
    • 2019 – $13
    • 2020 – $14
    • 2021 – $15
  • Mid-size businesses (11 to 50 employees)
    • 2018 – $12
    • 2019 – $12.50
    • 2020 – $13.25
    • 2021 – $14
    • 2022 – $14.50
    • 2023 – $15
  • Small businesses (fewer than 11 employees)
    • 2018 – $12
    • 2019 – $12.50
    • 2020 – $13
    • 2021 – $13.50
    • 2022 – $14
    • 2023 – $14.50
    • 2024 – $15

Riemer said the issue of domestic workers came up because the council had received feedback from community groups that work with foreign diplomats who live in Montgomery County and often hire domestic workers. Because the State Department was doing the hiring in most cases, pay rates below the county’s minimum wage were often automatically assigned without knowledge of the loophole in the county’s new law.

“If you are an ambassador, you will often hire a house cleaner in the county and possibly have your embassy talk to the State Department, who will find the worker for you. And so the State Department will tell you, ‘Here’s the person who has been found for you, and here’s your wage requirement,’ ” Riemer explained.

But Riemer said that in most cases in which county residents hire domestic workers themselves, it is most likely that they are already paying the worker above the county wage of $12 per hour, which is the rate currently required for businesses that employ 11 to 50 workers.

According to the bill that passed Tuesday, exemptions to the county’s minimum wage law will remain in place for “casual” employees such as babysitters and lawn mowers, along with employees under the age of 19 who work less than 20 hours per week.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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