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Rhode Island Minimum Wage Guide in 2024

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Justin GuinnAuthor

What is the minimum wage in Rhode Island?

The 2024 minimum wage in Rhode Island is $14.00 an hour for employers. According to the US Labor Law Center, these are the previous and current minimum wage rates for the state of Rhode Island.

Minimum wage rates in Rhode Island


Minimum Wage Rate for Employers 


$10.10 an hour


$10.0 an hour


$11.50 an hour

2021$11.50 an hour
2022$12.25 an hour
2023$13.00 an hour
2024$14.00 an hour

Minimum wage rates are the same everywhere in Rhode Island — unlike other states, there are not county differences for minimum wage in Rhode Island.

As an employer in Rhode Island, it is critical that you abide by all labor laws in the state, and one of the most important is the state minimum wage for employees.

The USA federal minimum wage is still only $7.25 an hour, and some states, like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee, don’t have their own state minimum wages, meaning they only have to pay the default $7.25. 15 more states, including North Carolina, Georgia, and North Dakota, do have their own state minimum wages, but they’ve also chosen to stick with $7.25 an hour. 

In this article, we’ll cover the current and historical minimum wage in Rhode Island, discuss the tipped minimum wage, and provide suggestions for businesses trying to figure out how to provide good pay to their employees while also running their businesses efficiently.

How can small businesses and restaurants in Rhode Island be compliant with minimum wage laws?

We’ve covered what minimum wage means for workers — but what about their employers? Inflation is severely impacting many businesses, and many restaurants report that they are having a hard time affording great staff.  Minimum wage is higher than ever, and restaurants in Rhode Island need to be able to pay their employees at least minimum wage, if not better. 

Restaurant profit margins and cost structures have long been more reliant on minimum wage workers than other industries, because the average profit margin in restaurants is only 3-5%. Other industries that bring in much better profit margins have historically been able to pay their employees better. But as long as we want restaurant work to be a sustainable job option, where employees want to stay at the same place (and not have to work multiple jobs), the industry needs to find ways to not only meet, but exceed, minimum wage.

How can small businesses and restaurants in Rhode Island offer fair wages to their employees?

As mentioned above, a lot needs to change for restaurant work to provide a living wage. Firstly, the industry standard 30-35% labor cost estimation is no longer accurate: labor cost will almost certainly make up a greater percentage of your operating budget than it did several years ago. 

Restaurants across the country have had to accept that labor cost is on the rise, and it will continue to rise as long as cost of living balloons unchecked. So what can a restaurant do to attract and keep the best staff with good pay and benefits? 

  1. Increase prices. The vast majority of restaurants have had to increase prices over the past year to cover the higher cost of ingredients, but you may have to raise prices again, by a more significant margin, to provide your team with good pay.

  2. Trim your menu. Food waste is one of the most important controllable costs to curtail, because it adds up quickly. An easy way to get a better handle on food waste, and to reduce your inventory costs overall, is to reduce the size of your menu and focus on the most popular and most profitable items

  3. Ensure every ingredient is used in multiple recipes. Part of trimming down your menu is cutting out extraneous ingredients that are only used in one recipe — for example, if you have a huitlacoche taco, but you don’t use the huitlacoche in anything else, it might be time to cut that item from your menu. 

  4. Implement a service charge. Try adding a percentage or amount-based charge to each bill, but include the explanation that it helps you keep your staff well-paid and helps you offer benefits. Check with your lawyer and accountant about how this charge will work into your business’s taxes.

  5. Try automatic gratuities. An automatic gratuity can help ensure that tips come in more evenly and regularly. If you try this, be sure to communicate this policy on your menu and on your website so customers aren’t caught by surprise. Check with your lawyer and accountant about how automatic gratuities can work into your business’s taxes.

How can you make sure that you’re compliant with state labor laws?

There are a lot of regulations to comply with when it comes to running payroll and scheduling employees. The easiest way to be compliant is to always pay every employee the full Rhode Island minimum wage, and an all-in-one payroll and team management solution can also help ensure you’re not overscheduling employees, that you’re paying for overtime as needed, and that they’re always paid on time. 

Livable wage means lower turnover

All restaurant workers deserve to be able to earn a living wage while learning the many skills that hospitality work provides: technical cooking skills, service skills, interpersonal skills, fast-paced team collaboration, business management, and so much more. Whether restaurant work is their first job, or they’ve been in the industry for decades, they can then choose to grow within a restaurant and rise through the ranks, or pursue a different career, knowing their restaurant experience is the backbone of their work ethic. 

Providing a living wage, beyond just minimum wage, can help businesses attract the best talent and keep their workers engaged and on staff — especially when coupled with a supportive work culture. 

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