How Enforcement Works

Citywide Minimum Wage: $15.87/hour

Citywide Minimum Wage in 2023: $17.29/hour

During the 2019 legislative session, the Colorado legislature enacted a new statute permitting local governments to set a jurisdiction-wide minimum wage. In November 2019, the Denver City Council created Denver Revised Municipal Code Chapter 58-16, which sets the local minimum wage for Denver and prescribes the means for setting, enforcing, and complying with the new local minimum wage.

The citywide minimum wage rate is required to increase annually according to the calculation of the Consumer Price Index. Ordinance requires the Denver Department of Finance to perform this calculation, while our office enforces the calculated rate and educated employers year-round. Read more about Finance's calculation here.


Receiving Complaints

HOW

Icon of a cell phone with a message blurb.Complaints can be made by

 
All complaints must be made in writing. We will assist anyone making a complaint in completing the necessary forms.

WHO

Icon of a construction worker. Complaints can be made by
  • Employees
  • A third-party: family/friends, attorney, community resources, labor organization
  • Anonymous


We encourage any party making a complaint to share contact information. We make every effort to keep complainant’s information confidentiality. Communication between the complainant and the investigator can dramatically assist an investigation.

WHAT

Badge and location icons. Complaints should include
  • Employer’s name
  • Location where the work was performed
  • A statement explaining the alleged violation

  1. The investigator assigned to the complaint may contact a complainant for additional information or documentation.
  2. Denver Labor will not ask and accept information related to a party’s citizenship or immigration status.
  3. The more information the complainant can provide, the greater the likelihood of a successful investigation.



The Six Steps of An Investigation

Step 1: Receive Complaint

Denver Labor receives a complaint about a minimum wage violation.

Step 2: Assess Complaint

Complaint will be reviewed to ensure initial investigation requirements.

Step 3: Contact Employer

Denver Labor contacts the employer to request employee, payroll and compliance documentation.

Step 4: Evaluate Complaint

Denver Labor re-examine the complaint, considering all information provided by the complainant and employer.

Step 5: Determine Underpayment and Fines

If employer has underpaid complainant, Denver Labor informs both parties of amount and levies applicable fines on employer for violations.

Step 6: Resolve Complaint

Employer provides evidence of complete restitution. 

CASE CLOSED

Without evidence, the case is referred to another agency for investigation or to an outside firm for collection of restitution.


Complaint Review Process

The complaint will be reviewed to ensure initial investigation requirements:

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A balance icon with a dollar symbol on one side and

1. Sufficient information was provided to permit an investigation. 2. The work was performed after Jan. 1, 2020.

3. The work was performed within the City and County of Denver.

4. The minimum wage requirements were not met.

Employer Requirements

 Denver law requires employers conducting business in Denver to retain records demonstrating compliance with Denver’s minimum wage law.

Icon of archive folders with a dollar sign in the center and the years '20, '21, '22. Icon of a 2020 annual calendar showing January 1 on the first page, surrounded by an arrow with a cross mark. Icon of an archive folder with a dollar symbol in the center, and spreadsheets inside the folder.

Icons of a female employee, male employee and the silhouette of a second female employee.
1. Sufficient payroll records for a period beginning Jan. 1, 2020 for at least three years. 2. Employers will not be asked for payroll records of work performed before Jan. 1, 2020.

3.No special format or recordkeeping system is required.

4.Records must be retained for current and past employees. 


Employer Requirements: Payroll Records

When Denver Labor conducts an investigation, employers must provide payroll records in a timely manner. These records must include:

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Icon of a bill with a dollar symbol in the center, and a clock behind created by arrow.
Icon of a bill with a dollar symbol in the center and a dotted line that cuts a forth of the bill.

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1. The number of hours worked by each worker. 2. The hourly wage paid to each worker.

 

3. Any deductions made from worker wages, including any taxes withheld.

4. The net amount of wages received by each worker. 


Determine Underpayment, Violations and Fines

Complaint Unsupported

Icon of a bill with a dollar symbol in the center.
  • Investigator will inform both the complainant and the employer no underpayment or violation was found.
  • Case will be closed.
  • A determination does not bar any party from seeking alternative relief or prevent a party from resubmitting a complaint with additional information.
  • A party has 30 days from the notice of a determination to file a written appeal with the Auditor’s Office. 

Complaint Supported

Icon of a bill with a dollar symbol in the center and a dotted line that cuts one forth of the bill.
  • Investigator will inform both the complainant and the employer of any restitution owed and the assessment of any applicable fines.
  • The employer can be fined for underpaying employees, failing to produce records, and providing false records.
  • Most of the fines are mandatory and cannot be waived by Denver Labor.
  • A party has 30 days from the notice of a determination to file a written appeal with the Auditor’s Office

Citywide Minimum Wage: FAQ

When Does the Minimum Wage Increase?

January 1 of each year.

How Much Will the Wage Increase?

The citywide minimum wage will increase to $17.29 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2023. If food and beverage industry employers claim the full tip credit of $3.02 per hour, the tipped wage would be $14.27. 

Denver Labor Wages Timeline in 2022.

Transcript of Denver Wages Timeline(PDF, 69KB) 

Is Denver’s Wage Rate the Highest?

No, Denver will be among several dozen cities nationwide with minimum wages above $17 per hour. In 2023, some peer cities will already be above $18 per hour.

How Is the Wage Increase Calculated?

According to ordinance, the Denver Department of Finance calculates the annual increase based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The methodology is laid out in ordinance and is similar to how the State of Colorado calculates its statewide minimum wage. According to ordinance, the adjustment calculation compares the Consumer Price Index for the first half of the previous year to the first half of the current year. The Consumer Price Index is designed to help workers keep up with the cost of living in their area.

 

This page is meant for educational and informational purposes. Nothing on this page alters any party’s rights, duties, or obligations to comply with any law. All parties are encouraged to thoroughly review the law ensure lawful compliance.


Resources and Contact

Find Small Resources for Businesses

Submit a Complaint Form

Return to Citywide Minimum Wage 

Return to Denver Labor


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AUDITOR TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, CPA
Denver's Auditor


Denver Auditor's Office
201 W. Colfax Ave. #705 Denver, CO 80202
Email: auditor@denvergov.org 
Call: 720-913-5000
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