Happy New Year!  I know I am more than happy to say goodbye to 2010, am looking forward to all the possibilities of 2011, and hope that anyone taking the time to read my blog is also off to a good start this new year.

On this First Monday of 2011, Colorado employers take note:

  1. The new Colorado minimum wage increased to $7.36 per hour effective January 1, 2011 (with tipped employees at $4.34/hour) – a $0.12 increase from the last change to Colorado’s minimum wage as of January 1, 2010 ($7.24) and $0.11 more than the federal minimum wage effective July 24, 2009 ($7.25).  When both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and a state law apply, the higher standard must be observed.  Ergo, Colorado employers must ensure all non-exempt, hourly employees are making at least $7.36 per hour as of the start of 2011. 
  2. The Payroll Tax Holiday of 2011 begins.  This is part of the new tax deal that Congress and President Obama put through in December to extend Bush-era tax cuts through 2012.  In addition to extending unemployment benefits, the new deal provides that employee side payroll tax contributions for Social Security taxes will be reduced by 2% (up to $106,800).  So, instead of seeing withholdings of 6.2% of wages for Social Security, employees should see more money in their paychecks with a lesser withholding of only 4.2% (employers still have to pay their 6.2%).  TaxGirl explains this change nicely on her blog.
  3. The Colorado Supreme Court did not issue any opinions this First Monday of 2011, but denied certioriari in 29 cases (PDF)
  4. Ellen Golombek is named the new Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment under Governor-Elect John Hickenlooper.  Golomobek is the former (and first woman to serve as) President of the Colorado AFL-CIO, a former Government Affairs Assistant with the Service Employees International Union, and most recently, served as the Colorado State Director for America Votes, a voter-rights organization.  As exemplified by Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp’s comments:

“Governor-elect Hickenlooper’s appointment to the Department of Labor may certainly take some of the air out of the bipartisan atmosphere he has promised to promote as Governor. His selection of a noted progressive activist and union boss in Ms. Golombek certainly will raise plenty of eyebrows in Colorado’s business community. And for good reason.”

this appointment is proving to be rather controversial.