Colorado Minimum Wage Increases and Exempt Employees Defined

The Colorado Wage Order is the state minimum wage and overtime law. There are several types of employees that are not subject to the Wage Order.

These “exempt” employees include:

  • salaried executive/supervisor, administrative, and professional employees
  • outside sales employees
  • elected officials and members of their staff
  • companions, casual babysitters, and domestic employees employed by households or family members to perform duties in private residences
  • property managers
  • interstate drivers, driver helpers, loaders or mechanics of motor carriers – but only if the employee crosses state lines in the course of their work [this is very different than federal and prior CO law and may entitle many intrastate truck drivers in Colorado to overtime pay for the first time] 
  • taxi cab drivers
  • bona fide volunteers
  • students employed by sororities, fraternities, college clubs, or dormitories
  • students employed in a work experience study program
  • employees working in laundries of charitable institutions which pay no wages to workers and inmates, or patient workers who work in institutional laundries

What is an Executive or Supervisor?

Under the state law, executive/supervisor employees who are paid on a salary basis, supervise the work of at least two full-time employees, have the authority to hire and fire or to effectively recommend such action, and spend a minimum of 50% of their time on supervisory duties are exempt from the Colorado Wage Order.

The new Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards (COMPS) Order sets a new minimum salary requirement for the salaried executive, administrative, and professional exemptions. The new state law salary requirements start July 1, 2020.  See this page for more details.

Prior to the new Colorado Wage Order, these employees had to earn more than the equivalent of minimum wage for all hours worked in a workweek.

New Colorado Minimum Wage for 2018 and 2019

Colorado raised its minimum wage rate to $10.20 per hour as of January 1, 2018 and $11.10 per hour as of January 1, 2019.  For 2018, if an executive or supervisor worked 50 hours per week, their salary must be higher than $510 per week – $10.20 x 50 hours. This rate is higher than the prior federal minimum salary requirement of $455* per week which was in effect until 1/1/2020. Therefore, if an employer was only paying an executive or supervisor the minimum federal salary amount of $455 prior to 1/1/2020 and the employee worked 50 hours per week, the employee may have been exempt under federal law but may still have a Colorado state law claim.

*Note: The Obama Administration increased the minimum “exempt” salary amount to $47,476 effective 12/1/16 but the increase was blocked by a court ruling.  Instead, the Trump Administration only increased the minimum “exempt” salary to $35,568 per year as of 1/1/2020.  Please see this page for the latest updates.

For the years prior to 2020, this minimum wage requirement will increase the required salary amount as weekly work hours increase. For example, if the executive or supervisor works 60 hours per week in 2018, their salary would need to be higher than $612/week ($10.20 x 60 hours); otherwise, they will not be exempt under state law and may have a state law overtime claim even though they may still be exempt under federal law.

Colorado Minimum Wage Rates for Executive/Supervisor Exemption

The following is the minimum salary amount required based on the Colorado minimum wage rates for 2017, 2018, and 2019 for the executive / supervisor exemption to apply under Colorado state law:

Weekly Hours 2017 2018 2019
40 hours $372 $408 $444
50 hours $465 $510 $555
60 hours $558 $612 $666


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