By Associated Press - Thursday, January 1, 2015

DENVER (AP) — Minimum wage workers in Colorado are getting a small raise in 2015 because of annual adjustments required by state law.

As of Thursday, Colorado’s minimum wage is $8.23 an hour, up 23 cents from last year. Restaurant servers and other tipped workers must be paid a minimum of $5.21 an hour in the new year.

Colorado is one of over a dozen states increasing their minimum wages. The hike comes as Boulder explores raising its minimum wage above the state’s and as fast-food workers campaign nationally to gain $15 an hour pay.

The minimum wage here is now over $3 more than it was in 2006, when Colorado voters backed raising it and tying future increases to inflation. According to some estimates, about 80,000 Coloradans earn minimum wage.

The Colorado Constitution requires the state’s minimum wage to be adjusted annually for inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index used by the state.

The federal minimum wage has remained unchanged at $7.25 since 2009. Under Colorado law, employers will have to pay employees covered by federal law the higher Colorado minimum wage.

If an employee’s tips combined with the employer’s cash wage of at least $5.21 per hour do not equal the minimum hourly wage, employers are required to make up the difference.

Another new law allows the Colorado Department of Labor to pursue employers accused of wage theft, Colorado Public Radio reported.

State Rep. Jonathan Singer, a co-sponsor of the Wage Protection Act, said complaints can be filed with the department.

“Now (the department will) be able to mediate situations that are just misunderstandings, investigate when there’s actual wrongdoing and bring justice,” Singer said.

The new law requires employers to keep records of their employee payrolls for three years. If a business fails to keep those records, it could be subject to a $250 fine per employee, up to a maximum of $7,500.

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