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Washington Overtime Laws

If your boss requires you to work overtime, you must work or risk losing your job. Fortunately, most employees are entitled to compensation for overtime when working more than 40 hours a week at one and a half times their regular rate. Failure to properly calculate payroll is a common problem for employers. Understanding when you qualify for overtime can be confusing, but it's worth money in your pocket to know the basics of Washington overtime laws and what you may be owed.

Washington Overtime Law Summary

This chart highlights key provisions of Washington overtime laws.

State and Federal Statutes

Washington Overtime Rules

Required overtime pay after 40 hours, at a rate of 1.5 times employee's normal rate.

"Comp" time allowed for government and private sector employees (not covered by FLSA).

Nurses in a 24-hour licensed health care facility (hospital or nursing home) cannot be required to work overtime.

Overtime pay provided for commissioned auto sales people.

Jobs Not Entitled to Overtime

Some jobs in Washington do not receive overtime pay, including:

  • Workers employed on farms, ranches, agricultural or horticultural business
  • Seasonal employees at agricultural fairs
  • Outside sales people
  • Newspaper vendors or carriers
  • Supervisory employee with management as primary duty
  • Occasional labor in or about private residences
  • Youth camps workers with child care responsibilities

Filing a Wage Complaint

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Washington Overtime Laws

Employers must follow both state and federal overtime rules. When differences exist between state and federal overtime rules, an employer must follow the rule that is most favorable to the worker. Federal overtime law, as contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), requires overtime pay when a "non-exempt" employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek.

Washington recognizes that some jobs are not covered by FLSA. These employees are governed by the Washington Minimum Wage Act. The state law contains similar requirements, with overtime compensated at a rate of at least at 1.5 times an employee's regular rate of pay for all hours in excess of 40 in a seven-day workweek.

Who is an Exempt Employee?

An exempt employee is not covered by the FLSA or the State Minimum Wage Act, and is not eligible for overtime. A non-exempt employee is covered by these laws and is eligible for overtime.

For an employee to be considered exempt, their specific job duties and salary must meet all the requirements set by either the U.S. Department of Labor or the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. The following types of employees are frequently exempt from state and federal overtime rules:

  • Employees who perform executive duties
  • Employees who perform administrator duties
  • Employees employed as "learned professional" (CPA, lawyer, executive chef)
  • Computer-related occupations

How to Calculate Your Overtime Rate

State and federal law sets an employee's overtime rate at 1.5 times their normal rate of pay. So if your hourly rate is $10 and you are eligible to receive overtime compensation, any overtime would be paid at $15 per hour.

What is Comp Time?

Compensatory, or 'comp time,' is where an employee works hours beyond 40 hours in a work week and banks those extra hours as paid time off to be used in the near future. Comp time is earned at a rate of 1.5 hours of comp time for every hour of overtime worked. It can only be granted at the employee's request, not the employer's.

Washington is one of the very few states where an employee in the private sector may request comp time in place of overtime pay. Typically, only government employees or those working for nonprofit agencies can take comp time. Compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay is not allowed for industries or enterprises that are subject to FLSA.

Counting Your Hours in a Workweek

A work week is a fixed schedule of a continuous seven-day, 24-hours per day schedule. Although your schedule within the work week is subject to change, the total days that make up your work week are constant. The workweek doesn't have to be Sunday to Saturday. It can start on any day of the week and will end seven consecutive days later.

Get Legal Help with Your Overtime Issue in Washington

If your employer fails to pay the overtime you're entitled to, there are steps you can take to get paid the proper amount. Washington state and the federal government have out-of-court processes to resolve pay disputes. Contact an experienced Washington employment attorney today to get help in recovering lost wages plus any damages caused by a denial of overtime pay.

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