Pay Raise! Comps Order 37 Increases Colorado Minimum Wage

Halleluiah, someone is getting a pay raise!  Unfortunately, it isn’t me, but I can still find it in my heart to celebrate the good that comes to others.  If you have been out of the loop, perhaps you don’t know about the COMPS Order 37.  So, here is what the order is all about, keeping you in the know with the latest and greatest.

COMPS Order 36

In order to understand COMPS Order 37, we must familiarize you with COMPS Order 36.  COMPS Order 37 replaced its predecessor on January 1, 2021.  A COMPS Order is a Colorado-based order, it’s long name being the Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards.  Employers must uphold the requirements of COMPS Orders by compensating employees fairly based on the work they perform.  Now, COMPS Order 36 is recognized for bringing about some major changes to compensation in the workplace, mostly because the order got very specific with type of work performed by employees over the industry they work in. 

Not Just a Pay Raise

So, there is actually much more to COMPS Order 37 than just a pay raise.  However, we’ll go ahead and start with the wage increase, since you are probably eager to know what has changed.

Minimum Wage and Exempt Employees

For starters, employers can expect to pay a higher minimum wage.  The new standard minimum wage is $12.32 per hour, which is an increase over 2020’s $12.00 per hour.  Tipped employees will also see a $.32 increase, bringing them to $8.98 per hour in 2021.  However, for tipped employees, the maximum tip credit stays capped at $3.02.

Now, certain exempt employees will see their salary increase to $778.85 per week, or $40,500 per year.  Employers can anticipate increasing that amount to $865.38 per week next year (2021). This will be a minimum of $45,000 per year.  Employees who can expect to receive this raise include administrative professionals, executives, and professional exemptions.  Furthermore, some employees are deemed as having a “highly technical computer-related occupation,” and are exempt. For such employees, COMPS Order 37 states they must be compensated at the salary threshold. That salary threshold is $778.85 per week, $40,500.20 per year, or $28.38 per hour.

Be aware, the verbiage for exempt employees has expanded for clarity for administrative workers.  Additionally, COMPS Order 37 includes “creative professionals” as those who are to be exempt. Creative professionals are therefore subject to the aforementioned salary increase, going forward.

Transportation Workers and COMPS Order

The most noteworthy change regarding exempt workers might be the update to employees in the transportation industry.  Specifically, COMPS Order 37 narrowed the criteria to fully exempt a worker.  Now, the major distinguishing factors for exemption are whether the worker is covered by the Motor Carriers Act, working on non-passenger CMVs, and is being compensated the equivalent of 50 hours at the standard Colorado minimum wage rate with overtime.

Seasonal Camps or Seasonal Outdoor Education Programs

Not to confuse it with general seasonal workers, this section of COMPS Order 37 applies strictly to staff of seasonal camps or seasonal outdoor education programs.  While the definition of what it means to be a “seasonal” camp does not change, it does clarify that staff may occupy the premises or remain “in the field” to be eligible for the exemption.  Additionally, there are some noteworthy differences in pay to qualify for exemption.  Specifically, adult employees should receive either $231.20 per week if working for a non-profit employer up to $25 million, or $317.44 per week for all other employers.  Likewise, minor employees should receive either $153.58 per week if working for a non-profit employer up to $25 million, or $239.82 per week for all other employers.  If employees are paid an hourly wage, they must be compensated “the applicable Colorado minimum wage for all hours worked.”

Healthy Families and Workplaces Act

Perhaps you remember the HFWA. This act came into play in a big way due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.  Well, while those protected under the federal Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act may be excluded from coverage under the HFWA, they are not excluded from the COMPS Order.  The COMPS Order 37 thus defines employee differently than the HFWA.  Furthermore, here you will find paid sick leave to be considered wages/compensation.

COMPS Order 37 Means A Raise for Some, A Win for All

So, perhaps I won’t be getting a raise this year, but that’s ok.  COMPS Order 37 ensures people in certain lines of work compensation at a higher rate, so that is a win.  Furthermore, the order clarifies information pertaining to exempt employees, transportation workers, seasonal camps, and the HFWA.  Clarification is always good, so there’s yet another win for COMPS Order 37.  Hopefully, 2021 will bring all of us more clarity and more wins, so that we can get back to focusing on the task at hand.

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