ST. PAUL (LEARFIELD) – A new law takes effect today that backers say is one of the toughest in the country against wage theft by employers. “Wage theft” is when an employer doesn’t pay an employee all wages, salary, tips, commissions or other earnings they’re entitled to.

Officials say tens of thousands of Minnesotans are put in that position every year.

The new law makes wage theft a felony beginning August 1st with penalties up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The state Department of Labor and Industry gets immediate funding to implement a wage theft prevention initiative, and the new law has protections for whistleblower employees.