Wage and Hour Laws in Washington

Washington rules on employee overtime, wage and hour law, and fair pay.

What is the minimum wage in Washington?

The minimum wage in Washington is $12.00 an hour for 2019, and will increase to $13.50 in 2020. In Seattle, Tacoma, and SeaTac, the minimum wages are higher. Seattle's minimum wage is $16.00 an hour for large employers (those with over 500 employees) and $15.00 or $12.00 for all other employers—the higher amount applies if the employer doesn't provide medical benefits. In Tacoma, the minimum wage is $12.35 an hour for 2019, with adjustments for inflation each year. SeaTac, the town that includes Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, has a minimum wage of $16.09 an hour for hospitality and transportation workers.

Is the minimum wage different in Washington for tipped employees?

Although the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the laws of some states allow employers to pay tipped employees a lower minimum wage, Washington law does not. In Washington, tipped employees are entitled to the full minimum wage for every hour worked. (For more information, see Nolo’s article Tips, Tip Pooling, and Tip Credits.)

When am I entitled to earn overtime?

In Washington, eligible employees must receive overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week. Not every type of job is eligible for overtime, however. To learn more, see Nolo’s article Overtime Pay: Your Rights as an Employee and contact the Washington Department of Labor and Industries.

Am I entitled to a lunch or rest break?

Yes. Employees in Washington are entitled to a 30-minute meal break if the work period is more than five consecutive hours. The meal break should not be less than two hours nor more than five hours from the beginning of the shift. This time is paid if the employee is on duty or is required to be at a site for the employer's benefit. Employees who work three or more hours longer than the regular workday are entitled to an additional half hour, before or during overtime. Agricultural employees are entitled to a 30-minute meal break if they work more than five hours and an additional 30 minutes if they work 11 or more hours in a day.

Employees are also entitled to a paid ten-minute rest break for each four-hour work period, scheduled as near as possible to the midpoint of each work period. The employee cannot be required to work more than three hours without a rest break. Scheduled rest breaks are not required where the nature of work allows the employee to take intermittent rest breaks equivalent to required standard.

To learn more about wage and hour laws in Washington, contact the state Department of Labor and Industries.

What are wage and hour laws?

Wage and hour laws set the basic standards for pay and time worked—covering issues like minimum wage, tips, overtime, meal and rest breaks, what counts as time worked, when you must be paid, things your employer must pay for, and so on.

Where do wage and hour laws come from?

The federal wage and hour law is called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Most states also have their own wage and hour laws, and some local governments (like cities and counties) do, too. An employer who is subject to more than one law must follow the law that is most generous to the employee. For example, the federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, but employers in states that have set a higher minimum wage must pay the higher amount.

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