Virginia Minimum Wage: How Much to Pay Employees

Wondering how much to pay employees in Virginia? Read our guide to learn about Virginia minimum wage laws, rules for tipped employees, overtime pay and more.


Note: The information below was last updated September 2021.


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What is the minimum wage in Virginia?

As of September 2021, the minimum wage in Virginia is set at $9.50 per hour. The $9.50 rate is based on federal guidelines.


Virginia minimum wage laws

The purpose of minimum wage laws is to prevent employers from giving employees low wages that do not fairly compensate them for the work they complete. In Virginia, the minimum wage is set at $9.50 per hour to ensure that workers can afford basic necessities, such as food, clothing and shelter. 


The jump from $7.25 an hour to $9.50 an hour took place on May 1, 2021, slightly over a decade after the state’s last wage increase in 2009. However, the $9.50 per hour wage is set to change by January 1, 2022. Between January 1, 2022, and January 1, 2023, Virginia’s minimum wage is expected to increase to $11 per hour. After this date, the rate will grow some more and then stay at $12 per hour until at least January 1, 2025.


There are some employees who are not covered by standard minimum wage requirements. Examples include: 


  • Farm laborers/workers 
  • Golf course caddies 
  • Summer camp employees 
  • Workers under 18 years of age who are employed by parents or legal guardians
  • Workers below 16 years of age, regardless of employer
  • Those working on a commission basis

The U.S. Department of Labor requires employers to display a minimum wage poster in their workplaces. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, “employers who willfully or repeatedly violate the minimum wage are subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000.”


Virginia minimum wages for servers and other tipped employees

Minimum wage laws work differently for employees that make substantial earnings from tips. Both federal and state laws identify tipped employees as workers who regularly earn tips that total more than $30 per month. This category includes those who wait on tables, serve and mix drinks, clean hotel rooms and open doors.


Servers and other tipped employees are protected by Virginia’s minimum wage laws, which means they are entitled to a wage of $9.50 per hour. However, the law permits employers to contribute part or even all of an employee’s tips to that minimum wage amount. 


Virginia also allows employers to take a tip credit on the amount their employees are earning from tips. In other words, employers can pay tipped employees a salary lower than minimum wage, provided the employee earns enough in tips to make up the difference. Through tip credits, employers can pay employees a minimum wage of $2.13 an hour. However, if the employee does not receive enough in tips to bring their hourly wage to at least $9.50, the employer is required to step in and settle the difference.


Tip pooling

State laws also allow employers to request that all tipped employees contribute to a tip pool. During tip pooling, employees offer a portion of their tips to a shared fund. This amount is later collected and then divided among the group of employees. 


Before implementing tip pooling in the workplace, employers should be sure to notify their employees about the policy in advance. They should also check that employees are only pooling money after retaining the minimum wage amount. As a general rule, tips from a tip pool should only be distributed to the tipped employees. Workers that earn a regular salary, such as managers and supervisors, are prohibited from taking these tips. 


Virginia minimum wage overtime pay

In Virginia, employees are entitled to an overtime pay rate if they work for over 40 hours in a single week. Because the state does not have a specific, daily overtime limit, employees are eligible for overtime pay in exchange for any excess work hours. 


The Virginia overtime minimum wage is usually 1.5 times the employee’s normal hourly wage. This means that, under the current Virginia minimum wage laws, employers must pay employees at least $14.25 per hour in overtime wages. To calculate the total overtime pay due, multiply the overtime rate by the number of hours.


Virginia minimum wage FAQs

What states have a $15 an hour minimum wage?

As of September 2021, there are no states that pay a minimum wage of $15 per hour. However, several states, including California, Illinois and Massachusetts, plan to raise their minimum wages to this amount. California and Massachusetts intend to achieve a $15 per hour minimum rate by January 1, 2023, while Illinois is aiming for 2025. In Virginia, the minimum wage is expected to reach $15 by 2026. 


What is the minimum wage for a 16-year-old in Virginia?

Currently, anyone under age 18 who is enrolled in an education program and works fewer than 20 hours a week is exempted from the standard Virginia minimum wage laws. Such employees are instead guaranteed a minimum wage of $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of employment.


What is a livable salary in Virginia?

To live comfortably in the city of Richmond, Virginia, a single adult with no children needs to make at least $15.95 per hour. The state’s cost of living is slightly higher than elsewhere in the nation, with Virginia housing prices representing the largest jumps over U.S. averages.


What is the minimum a salaried employee can make?

A salaried employee, or exempt employee, is paid a set salary as opposed to a minimum wage. Such employees are generally excluded from both minimum wage and overtime rules. In the United States, the lowest amount a salaried employee can earn is $684 a week, or $35,568 annually. 


What is the federal minimum wage?

Currently, the federal minimum wage rate is set at $7.25 per hour. However, if an employee is subject to both federal and state wage laws, the employee is entitled to whichever represents the higher rate. For instance, in Virginia, employees under both federal and state laws can receive a minimum wage of $9.50 per hour.


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