Manitoba’s recent minimum wage increase may have unintended consequences

Possible reduction in employee hours and shifts after wage increase

Straight from the Employment Standards Office, Manitoba’s decision to up their minimum wage has the potential for positive and negative changes. Cindy Titus

While most workers welcome the minimum wage increase to $9.50 announced for Oct. 1 by the province, some wonder what impact this will have on the hours and the earnings of salaried managers.

The increase applies to all workers in Manitoba, hourly and salaried, regardless of whether they began working at their jobs before or after the increase.

“If you’re currently making $9.40 an hour, you’ll get a raise,” said Ray MacIsaac, manager of public education for Manitoba’s employment standards division. “If you’re already making $9.75 an hour, there is no requirement that you must get a raise.”

While the gap in earnings between a salaried manager and an hourly employee may get smaller after this increase, the individual employer may decide to give the manager a raise as well, notes MacIsaac.

Katrina Halischuk, a bartender with Boston Pizza, believes that it’s not only a matter of the gap getting smaller.

“People who make salary wages lose when the minimum wage goes up because they don’t necessarily have to get an increase,” said Halischuk.

If an hourly employee were to get a lot of overtime, Halischuk notes, it might be possible for them to make more than a salaried manager after the minimum wage increase.

Applebee’s server Lisa-Marie Hasiuk has seen hours and overtime reduced after the recent minimum wage increase, making it unlikely that an hourly employee would earn more than a salaried employee.

“A friend of mine was working 12 shifts a week and they were cut down to six shifts,” said Halischuk. “My hours are probably going to be decreased as well. During a shift, we’re kept on for a lot less time than we used to be.”

Halischuk and Hasiuk both acknowledge that employers need to keep labour costs down.
However, Hasiuk wonders what the trade-off of the wage increase is.

“If they’re going to be (cutting hours), then the wage increase almost doesn’t matter,” said Hasiuk.

Published in Volume 65, Number 8 of The Uniter (October 21, 2010)

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