Washington State Overtime and Labor LawsBelow is an overview of the minimum wage and overtime pay laws that apply to workers in the state of Washington. Private actions to enforce Washington’s wage and hour laws, and recover unpaid overtime due to workers, are commonly brought (on a contingent fee basis) by employment law firms such as The Lore Law Firm. If you believe that you have been deprived of the overtime pay that you are legally entitled to, please contact us for a free and confidential review of your situation.
- January 1, 2018 $11.50
- January 1, 2017 $11.00
- January 1, 2016 $9.47
- January 1, 2015 $9.47
- January 1, 2014 $9.32
- January 1, 2013 $9.19
- January 1, 2012 $9.04
- January 1, 2011 $8.67
- January 1, 2010 $8.55
- January 1, 2009 $8.55
- January 1, 2008 $8.07
In addition, the following cities have enacted minimum wage laws:
SEATTLE – Minimum Wage – For employees working within the city limits: Large Employers (more than 500 employees):
- For 2019: $16/hour
- For 2018: $15/hour if employer pays toward medical benefits. $15.45/hour if not.
- For 2017: $13.50/hour if employer pays toward medical benefits. $15/hour if not.
- For 2016: $12.50/hour if employer pays toward medical benefits. $13/hour if not.
- For 2019: $12.00/hour if employer pays towards medical benefits and/or the employees earns tips. $15/hour if not.
- For 2018: $11.50/hour if employer pays towards medical benefits and/or the employees earns tips. $14/hour if not.
- For 2017: $11/hour if employer pays towards medical benefits and/or the employees earns tips. $13/hour if not.
- For 2016: $10.50/hour if employer pays towards medical benefits and/or the employees earns tips. $12/hour if not.
SEATAC – Minimum Wage – Minimum Employment Standards Ordinance for Hospitality and Transportation Industry Employers within the City
- $16.09 as of January 1, 2019
- $15.64 as of January 1, 2018
- $15.34 as of January 1, 2017
- $15.24 as of January 1, 2016
- $15.24 as of January 1, 2015
TACOMA – Minimum Wage – For employees working within the city limits:
- $10.35 per hour on February 1, 2016 (the same effective date as the Paid Leave Ordinance passed in January 2015)
- $11.15 per hour on January 1, 2017
- $12.00 per hour on January 1, 2018
- $12.35 per hour on January 1, 2019
- Adjusted annually by the rate of inflation beginning January 1, 2019
Tipped employees must be paid the full minimum wage rate. Employers are not allowed to use tips as a credit against minimum wage.
While Washington state employment law allows a worker to agree to receive time off at a later date instead of being paid overtime (“comp time”), federal law does not comp time to be given by private employers.
The following are some of the employees who are exempt from the overtime regulations under Washington state law:
- Farm/ Ranch/Agricultural workers
- Casual Labor in/at private residences such as babysitting or yard work
- Fire and forest protection employees
- Newspaper venders / carriers
- Seasonal agricultural fair employees as long as they don’t work more than 14 days per year
- Employees who sleep or reside at their place of employment (Federal law may be different than state law).
- Seaman and Washington State ferry crews
- Employees a youth camps
- Inmates, residents or patients of public detention, treatment or rehabilitation facilities
- Elected or appointed public positions
- Movie Projectionists
- Air carrier employees
- Executive, Administrative, Professional, Computer Professional and Outside Sales
- Commissioned Salespeople that sell cars, trucks, farm implements, recreational vehicles and manufactured housing as long as they receive at least one and one-half the minimum wage for all hours worked.
- Retail / Service Employees if more than half of their wages per week is commissions.
- Truck / Bus Drivers if the company has gotten approval from the Department of Labor & Industries for a “reasonably equivalent” plan
- Firefighters / Police Officers if they work certain tours of duty
RN’s and LPNs who work in certain facilities and are paid on an hourly basis cannot be required to work over the established schedules or agreed-upon work week.
Per the Initiative, beginning on January 1, 2018, employers would be required to provide paid sick leave to employees covered by the Minimum Wage Act. Employees would earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Sick leave must be paid out at the higher of the employee’s pay rate or the new minimum wage. Employers must allow employees to use paid sick leave after the first 90 days of employment. Sick leave could be used to meet an employee’s own medical needs or to care for a family member’s medical needs. Please see this news release from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries for further details.
In addition, four cities in Washington have adopted paid sick leave laws: Seattle, SeaTac, Tacoma, and Spokane.
SEATTLE – Paid Sick & Safe Time (PSST) – applies to almost employees working within Seattle city limits.
- Small (Tier 1) Employer – Full Time Equivalents: 5–49. Employees accrue 1 hour of PSST per 40 hours worked.
- Medium (Tier 2) Employer – Full Time Equivalents: 50–249. Employees accrue 1 hour of PSST per 40 hours worked.
- Large (Tier 3) Employer – Full Time Equivalents: 250 or more. Employees accrue 1 hour of PSST per 30 hours worked.
SEATAC – Earned Sick and Safe Leave (ESSL)
Employees working for hospitality or transportation employers within the City must earn at least 1 hour of paid sick and safe time for every 40 hours worked. Employees are entitled to use any accrued hours as soon as hours have accrued.
See the City of SeaTac website for more information.
TACOMA – Paid Leave – applies to all employees working within Tacoma city limits for 80 hours or more in a calendar year.
As of February 1, 2016, employers must provide up to 24 hours of paid leave per year. All employees earn one hour for every 40 hours worked with in Tacoma, up to 24 hours within a calendar year. Employees may carry forward up to 24 hours of unused paid leave into the next year.
See the City of Tacoma website for more information.
SPOKANE – Earned Sick and Safe Leave (ESSL) – Applies to employers with 1 or more employees who physically work more than 240 hour within Spokane, unless otherwise excluded. See City of Spokane website for excluded employers.
Beginning January 1, 2017, each employee who is covered by the ordinance will earn 1 hour of paid leave for every 30 hours they work. Employers can institute a probationary period of up to 90 days before an employee can use sick leave, although, employees start to accrue sick leave on their first day. Employees of companies with less than 10 employees can use 24 hours of earned sick and safe leave in a year. Employees of companies with 10 or more employees can use 40 hours of earned sick and safe leave in a year.
Holiday pay is not required under Washington state labor laws.
While a business may choose to pay employees overtime for working on a holiday, it is not required by law. If employees are paid for hours not worked on a holiday, these hours are not considered time worked when determining overtime hours for the work week.
Vacation pay is not required under Washington state employment laws.
Meal Breaks / Rest Periods
Rest Periods – A paid rest break of at least 10 minutes is required for each 4 hours worked. The rest period must be provided no later than the end of the 3rd hour of the shift.
Meal Periods – If an employee works more than 5 hour in a shift, they must be allowed at least a 30 minute meal period. The meal period cannot start prior to 2 hours into the shift or later than 5 hours into the shift. This meal period does not have to be paid if the employee is relieved of all duties for the entire period.
The following deductions can be made from an employee’s paycheck while employed or from their final paycheck:
- State and federal taxes
- Deductions agreed to by the employee in advance such as personal loans and advances
- Medical costs when the employees agrees to these deductions
- Court-ordered garnishments
- Cash drawer shortages – subject to certain conditions
- Breakage, damage or loss of equipment if caused by the employee’s dishonest or willful act
- Bad checks or credit card charges accepted by the employee if the business has established acceptance policies prior to the incident
- Worker theft but the business must file a police report
- Deductions that were agreed to at the time of termination
Under Washington state labor laws, employees may recover unpaid overtime for three years prior to the filing of a lawsuit.
- Yes. (There is an exception for registered nurses and licensed practical nurses).
- No. However, if an employee is non-exempt, then they must be paid overtime pay if they are required to work more than 40 hours per workweek. There are limits for employees under 18.
- No, employees cannot waive their right to overtime pay.
- No, overtime pay is only required for working more than 40 hours in a workweek.
- Yes. Employer may change an employee’s schedule at any time, with or without notice.
- Employers must keep employee contact information, occupation, daily and weekly hours, rates of pay, total wages earned, deductions and net pay for the pay periods for 3 years. When requested, these records must be made available to an employee in a reasonable amount of time.
- There is no state law that requires an employer to pay these benefits upon termination but if the employer promises to pay these benefits and does not, an employee can sue to recover these. Ballot Initiative 1433, passed on 11/8/16, does not require employers to pay out any unused sick leave at the end of employment.
- Yes, you can be required to stay on site during your rest period and during paid meal breaks. If your break is unpaid, you can only be required to stay on site if you are completely relieved of duty and will never be called back to work during the meal period.
- No. However, it is advisable to turn these items in promptly to avoid disputes.