“The worker deserves his wages,” says Luke 10:7. But figuring out what’s fair for a certain job can be a serious challenge. A minimum wage increase proposal has been tossed around the U.S. government lately. So far, a bill hasn’t passed to raise the existing $7.25 per hour wage that’s been in place since 2009. But that doesn’t mean a legislated increase isn’t coming.
Minimum wage is the lowest hourly payment that employers can legally pay employees. The rate varies between countries. For example, Kyrgyzstan has the world’s lowest minimum wage at $14 per month, or about nine cents per hour! Australia pays at least $15.12 hourly. (Rates adjusted to U.S. dollars.)
Democrats hoped to force a rate increase in the March $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. The bill initially required yearly increases in the minimum wage to a whopping $15 per hour by 2025. The House of Representatives approved the hike, but it didn’t make it through the Senate for a vote.
Many people say the current minimum wage is insufficient compared to the cost of living. Families struggling to make ends meet see hope in a minimum wage increase. The Bible reminds us not to be anxious about finances. (See Luke 12:24, Philippians 4:19, and 2 Peter 1:3.) Others say increasing wages will reduce jobs by making it financially impossible for many businesses to survive. Increased wages also drive up inflation, making necessities more costly.
Due to human nature, there are problems on all sides of the worker/pay issue. Some employees want to work less but earn more. Not everyone has a strong work ethic. On the other hand, some employers insist on paying the least amount they can. Greedy for gain, they pocket large profits while people in their charge go without.
In a 2014 column entitled Upside-down Golden Rule, WORLD News Group Founder Joel Belz says, “Isn’t minimum wage another way of saying, ‘If I could legally pay you less, I would’?” That realization changed his perspective on caring for employees.
What should determine a raise? The U.S. Congress? Mr. Belz says that employers may need a heart-shift like he experienced. He tells his dedicated employees, “My goal is to pay you just as much as I possibly can––while balancing our budget, giving our investors a good return, and making sure we’ve got reserves for future operations. I value you, and I don’t want you to leave us to go somewhere else.”
If you are an employee, work hard. If you become the employer, ask God for both wisdom and a generous heart that reflects His. Meditate on Colossians 3:23. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”