Denver’s Minimum Wage Rate Increases to $14.77 per Hour

Published on January 01, 2021

A restaurant worker taking an order

DENVER – Starting today, every employer in the City and County of Denver must pay their employees at least $14.77 per hour, with few exceptions.

“This is a truly challenging time for businesses, and I want to work with them to find ways to keep their employees paid according to the law,” Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA, said. “My goal isn’t to penalize employers who make honest mistakes but instead to raise awareness and keep the city’s workers paid during this time of economic hardship.”

This year’s increase is expected to mean a pay raise for thousands of workers — many of whom are front-line employees or other workers who have not had the option to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These workers put in their time and effort every day to keep Denver going,” Denver Labor Executive Director Jeffrey Garcia said. “The past year has been hard on everyone and this isn’t an easy change for many businesses — but every dollar also matters to the workers and their families.”

Denver Labor works with both employers and employees to educate and enforce all wage rates in the city.

The City Council set the annual minimum wage rate adjustments in 2019 after meeting with community and business groups and after holding several community town halls. The citywide minimum wage first took effect in 2020 and applies to any work performed within the boundaries of the city and county.

Employers in the food and beverage industry can claim up to $3.02 per hour as “tip credits,” but they must be able to produce documentation that their employees were paid at least that amount in actual tips. This tip credit rate is based on the state of Colorado’s rate.

“My office’s focus on education and outreach will help workers know their rights and employers stay in compliance by paying people correctly the first time around,” Auditor O’Brien said. “My team of hardworking analysts are ready to collaborate with employers and answer any questions.”

If employers or workers are unsure whether the citywide minimum wage applies to them, they can check their work address using our online map. The wage rate applies to all work performed within the City and County of Denver, regardless of where a business’s main office is.

We do live weekly training sessions on our Facebook page in English and Spanish to help employers navigate the law and stay in compliance.

If employees think they were underpaid according to the law, they can file a complaint with our office using the forms on our website in English or Spanish. They can also call us at 720-913-5039. Complaints can be anonymous; however, the more information we have, the quicker we may be able to complete an investigation.

When performing investigations, we request payroll information for all potentially impacted employees, not just the employee who filed a complaint. There are also provisions under the existing minimum wage rules that prohibit employers from retaliating because of a minimum wage complaint.

“All of Denver’s workers have earned at least the citywide minimum wage, and they deserve to be paid according to the law,” Auditor O’Brien said.

Our office also enforces the prevailing wage rates and the contractor minimum wage rate. If more than one wage rate could apply, employers must pay at least the highest applicable rate. Visit our website to learn which rate applies to different types of work in Denver.

As of Jan. 1, 2021, the citywide minimum wage is higher than the contractor minimum wage and some prevailing wage rates. That will change again on July 1, 2021, when the contractor minimum wage rate goes up to $15 per hour. See the chart below to track wage rates and when they increase over time.

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Timothy O'Brien Official Headshot
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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