Minimum Wage Hikes in 20 States Among Notable Employment Law Developments in 2019

Other Trends include Salary History Inquiry Laws, Leave, Benefits and Health Care

New Providence, NJ (January 7, 2019) -- As always, the ball dropping in Times Square not only ushered in a new year but also many new employment laws across the country taking effect on January 1. Headlining the list are numerous minimum wage increases as 20 states raised their minimum hourly rate, several of them by a significant amount.

For example, Massachusetts and Washington now have a $12/hr. minimum wage; Arizona and Maine up to $11/hr.

"With the federal minimum wage frozen at $7.25 since July 2009, it's not surprising that many states have taken matters into their own hands," says David Weisenfeld, JD, Legal Editor, XpertHR. "In fact, minimum wage increases at the state level have become virtually an annual event."

Minimum wage hikes are not the only notable developments that took effect on New Year's Day. One of the biggest employment law trends of 2018 at the state level involved new prohibitions on salary history questions. These restrictions aim to eliminate the still-sizeable gap that exists between men and women for performing the same, or substantially similar, work.

Effective January 1, 2019, the following states restrict employers from asking job applicants about their current or past salary history:


Hawaii; and


Leave and Benefits

Another evolving area involves new requirements relating to leave and employee benefits. These requirements cover issues ranging from paid sick and family leave to health care to military leave.

Eight states had new requirements taking effect on January 1, including:

Arizona—health care continuation coverage law;

Connecticut—essential health benefit and cost sharing requirements;

Illinois—consolidating military leave laws;

Maine—adding preventive health care service requirements

New Jersey—individual health insurance mandate;

New York—paid family leave benefits rate increase;

Rhode Island—paid sick leave accrual and use rate increases; and

Washington—employee contributions may be collected for paid family and medical leave benefits.

Also on the health care front, the federal tax reform law enacted in late December 2017 repealed the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate beginning January 1, 2019. The ACA individual mandate had required almost everyone either to maintain minimum essential coverage or to make a shared responsibility payment.

The New Jersey individual health insurance mandate law, mentioned above, mirrors the one that the ACA originally established before its repeal. Other states may well follow suit.

These requirements, along with increased minimum wage rates and salary history inquiry laws, highlight the 2019 changes likely to affect organizations this year. To learn more about potential new compliance requirements nationally and statewide and to download the new minimum wage requirements, visit XpertHR.

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Editor's Note: David Weisenfeld JD is available for interview and also hosts XpertHR's award-winning employment law podcast series. If you use any of this material, please include a link to

Media Contact:

Beth Brody (for XpertHR)