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Washington Wage and Hour Laws

Most Washington employers are subject to both federal and state minimum wage and overtime laws. The effect of this dual coverage is that the employer must follow the higher standard, meaning the one most beneficial to the employee, when there are differing requirements in the laws.

Here, we will focus on Washington state law including pay day requirements (frequency and manner), minimum wages and overtime pay.

Pay Day Requirements: How Often

Washington employers must pay their hourly employees at least once a month.

Method of Payment

An employer may pay wages by cash, check, direct deposit or prepaid payroll card so long as the employee consents and without any fees or costs to the employee.

What is the Minimum Wage in Washington?

The minimum wage for employees in Washington is $11.50 per hour.

When is an Employee Entitled to Overtime Pay?

Most Washington state workers who are paid an hourly wage and work more than 40 hours in a 7-day work week must be paid overtime. When paying overtime, a business must pay at least one and one-half times the worker’s regular hourly rate.

Is there a Penalty for Failing to Follow Pay Day Laws?

Yes. Failure to pay the legal minimum wage and other violations may result in payment of back wages and civil or criminal action where warranted.

See Fair Wages FAQ, Exempt Employees, and Employees Rights 101 for more information.

Code Sections

1) Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (Federal)

2) RCW 49.46.020 et. seq

Pay Day Requirements

Employees must be paid on a regular schedule at least once a month.

Method of Payment

Cash, Check and Direct Deposit or Payroll Debit Card.

Minimum Wage

Hourly Employees: $11.50 per hour, applies to workers in both agriculture and non-agricultural jobs, although 14- and 15-year-olds may be paid 85% of the minimum wage ($9.78).

Tipped Employees: Businesses may not use tips as credit toward minimum wages owed to a worker.

Overtime Pay

Most workers who are paid an hourly wage and work more than 40 hours in a 7-day work week must be paid overtime. When paying overtime, a business must pay at least one and one-half times the worker’s regular hourly rate.

Examples of Workers Not Covered Under State Overtime Laws

***Workers not covered under Washington's overtime laws may still be entitled to protection under federal law***

  • Workers employed on farms or ranches, or in any agricultural or horticultural business that packs, packages, grades, stores, or delivers to market such products, or any commercial business in canning, freezing, processing or transporting these products, or in cultivating, raising, harvesting or processing oysters.
  • Seasonal employees at agricultural fairs if the worker has not worked more than 14 days per year.
  • Newspaper vendors or carriers.
  • Casual labor in or about private residences such as babysitters or neighborhood kids or adults that go to residents in the area and mow lawns, rake leaves or use a snow blower to remove snow even when they are paid for this work.
  • Forest protection and fire prevention activities.
  • Any individual whose duties require that he or she resides or sleeps at the place of his or her employment or who otherwise spends a substantial amount of time on call and not engaged in the performance of active duties.
  • Seaman on American or foreign vessel. Vessel operating crews of WA State ferries operated by DOT.
  • Youth camps with child care responsibilities in development of character, citizenship, or health and physical fitness, for example YMCA, scout or church camps.
  • Inmate, resident, or patient of any state, county, or municipal correctional, detention, treatment, or rehab institution.
  • Public elective or appointive offices.
  • Volunteers for a profit or nonprofit educational, charitable or religious organization or government agency,
  • Motion picture projectionists under collective bargaining agreement or other contract.
  • Employees of an air carrier when such hours are voluntarily worked pursuant to a shift-trading practice.
  • Executive, Administrative, Professional, Computer Professional and Outside Sales; workers who are paid on a salary basis and meet specific duties requirements. See State vs. Federal "White Collar" Overtime information.

Washington State Department of Labor & Industry

Meal Breaks

If more than 5 hours are worked in a shift workers must be allowed at least a 30-minute meal period. Workers must be at least 2 (two) hours into the shift before the meal time can start. The meal time cannot start more than 5 hours after the beginning of the shift.

How to File a Complaint

File a complaint online or call 1-866-219-7321

Please be aware that state employment laws are constantly changing.

Learn How Washington Wage and Hour Laws Affect You by Speaking to a Lawyer

It's important that your employer observes all applicable employment laws. After all, these laws are in place to protect the worker from being taken advantage of by an employer. If you have questions about wage and hour laws in Washington, it's best to contact a local employment law attorney who can explain the effects that these laws have on your specific situation.

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