Businesses need to prepare now for a rise in federal minimum wage

Interest in raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, as President Joe Biden has proposed, has never been greater—even though the timing couldn’t be worse for America’s small businesses, Inc. reports

Although the Senate moved to push through Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue plan without a stepped-up minimum wage increase, House Democrats are forging ahead. Even if the provision doesn’t make it in this version, a boost to the federal minimum wage, which hasn’t budged since 2009, will likely be on the agenda later in Biden’s tenure. 

So it may be wise to consider your options now. 

Tim Ford, a partner in the commercial litigation employment practice at Einhorn Barbarito in Denville, New Jersey, urges businesses dealing with higher labor costs to utilize many of the same strategies that got them through the darkest days of the pandemic. 

In other words, you may need to cut staff or, as Ford suggests, you might just reduce your hours of operation, as a number of big and small stores alike have done during the pandemic. That could mean operating for fewer hours each day or reducing the days of the week in which you operate. Analyze your costs and biggest revenue-producing hours, he says. 

“If labor costs are going to outpace what you’re making, you may want to consider reducing the number of days you’re open … or the hours you’re open in a particular retail location.” 

There’s also the longstanding premise that automation becomes more feasible as wages rise. Lots of companies got a major boost from technology during the pandemic—whether that meant pushing more sales through a website or adopting touchless technology. Consumers are already largely acclimated to tech. 

A recent survey shows 85% of shoppers have increased curbside pickup usage since the pandemic began. While 91% of those polled said they miss shopping in stores, only 28% plan to increase in-store shopping in the next six months. Read the full story.