This year, the General Assembly is voting on a number of bills which could have far reaching impacts for small business owners. Few bills could prove as catastrophic for small businesses as the various minimum wage bills which are circulating throughout the General Assembly this year which would ultimately culminate with a $15/hour mandated minimum wage for all employees.

Why is Retail Merchants Opposed?

While most Retail Merchants businesses are already paying employees above minimum wage*, RMA, together with Virginia Retail Federation, strongly opposes such drastic measures which would strip employers of the flexibility needed to fairly compensate and incentivize employees.

“Increases should be performance and productivity based, not mandated,” said RMA President, Nancy Thomas. Employers should have the flexibility to pay a competitive wage and the option to offer enhanced benefits including health insurance, or bonuses. A mandated minimum wage would take all of those added perks off of the table.

Additionally, a mandated minimum wage would halt job growth – particularly in those retail and dining establishments that employ a high number of high school and college students including places like ice cream parlors and amusement parks.

But They Will Have a Couple of Years to Implement the Increase

While many of the bills do in fact call for a phased-in implementation, the unprecedented steep trajectory of the proposed increases would still prove unbearable for many, if not most local small businesses.

The Domino Effect

Even if small businesses were equipped to shoulder the burden of a sudden skyrocketing payroll, the additional costs will not be limited to hourly wages. The narrow focus of these bills fail to take into account added costs on the businesses as a result which would include increased payroll taxes, increased workers compensation costs, and more.

The Last Word

Business owners provide a direct benefit to the economy. Entrepreneurs risk their capital and other resources to start and grow businesses and provide jobs to the people of Virginia. Raising the minimum wage undermines this effort and impacts all businesses throughout the commonwealth. We are asking that you contact your lawmakers today and urge them to oppose such a drastic increase in the minimum wage to ensure Virginia’s retailers and their employees do not have to carry the burden of such a sharp increase to their labor costs.

Ready to Take Action?

Your lawmakers like to hear directly from the business community in their district! Please take a moment to ask your lawmakers to consider the impact of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour for your business.


*According to an internal survey conducted December 2019.