The only time you're guaranteed a raise is when you're working for subminimum wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act that says employers can pay workers who are younger than 20 years old just $4.25 an hour. Otherwise, federal or state laws don't require your employer to give you a raise if you work in the private sector. If you're working for a federal, state or local government entity, you might have a better chance of getting a salary increase based on merit pay and tenure, but nothing is guaranteed.
The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, mandates minimum wage rates, working hours, overtime and record-keeping provisions for employers. Regardless of how many workers your employer has, it's required to pay hourly workers a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and salaried employees at least $455 a week. That said, there are some exceptions to minimum wage, called subminimum wages, that apply in special circumstances. Just one type of subminimum wage has a guaranteed raise after 90 days.
Subminimum Wages - No Raises
The U.S. Department of Labor allows employers to pay subminimum wages for tipped employees, workers with disabilities and employees who are younger than 20 years old. The subminimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour, but the employer has to bump up the pay if the employee's tips don't average out to $7.25 an hour. That bump in pay isn't a pay raise -- it's the employer complying with federal law by making up the difference in tips the employee would have received. Also, workers with disabilities can be paid far below the minimum wage, based on the employer's justification that the worker's disability causes her productivity level to be lower than an employee without a disability. But they aren't guaranteed raises.
Youth Subminimum Wage
You will, however, get a raise after 90 days if you're paid below the minimum wage because you're considered a "youth worker." The government permits employers to pay employees under 20 years old less than the minimum wage -- $4.25 an hour -- for the first 90 days of employment. If you don't reach your 20th birthday before you finish your first 90 days on the job, your company has to give you a raise so that you start earning at least $7.25 an hour, the standard minimum wage under federal law. If you are 19 years old and making $4.25 an hour and then your 20th birthday rolls around 15 days later, you'll get at least a $3.00 an hour raise.
Hourly to Salaried
The minimum weekly wage for salaried employees is $455 a week, which translates to $11.38 an hour, based on a 40-hour workweek. If you're making the $7.25 minimum wage and your boss promotes you to a salaried position, you'll get a raise because your weekly earnings will jump from $290 a week -- that's $7.25 times 40 hours -- to $455. But that's not a guarantee. That's only if you're making minimum wage now and you move to a salaried job within 90 days.
Employment laws don't dictate when employees should get pay raises. That's a matter between the employee and the employer. Many employers give you a raise based on your performance, although some companies and government entities count work experience and time on the job when they're considering giving employees a raise. Another reason you might get a 90-day raise is when your employer agrees to evaluate your performance after a 90-day trial period, but many companies wait longer to give performance appraisals and raises.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.