Minimum Wage rises in 2020; other wage requirements also take effect
Tumwater – The minimum wage in Washington increased to $13.50 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2020. It’s the final increase mandated under a voter-approved initiative.
The state minimum wage applies to workers age 16 and older. Under state law, employers can pay 85 percent of the minimum wage to workers ages 14-15. For 2020, that would be $11.48. Tips do not count toward a worker’s minimum wage.
The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) enforces the state’s wage-and-hour laws. The minimum wage applies to most jobs, including those in agriculture.
In all, a total of 189,994 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, 7.2 percent of all FTEs in the state, are affected, according to the state Employment Security Department.
When Initiative 1433 passed in 2016, it set a schedule for minimum wage increases over four years. For 2021, L&I will calculate the minimum wage using a formula tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.
Overtime rules change
In addition to the state’s minimum wage going up, the U.S. Department of Labor has updated its overtime rules regarding exempt employees. Effective Jan. 1, 2020, the federal minimum salary threshold for workers who are exempt from overtime will be $684 a week ($35,568 a year), up from $455 ($23,660 a year) a week.
To be overtime exempt, an employee generally must: be paid a fixed salary; perform certain defined job duties, and; have the salary meet or exceed the salary threshold.
Along with the federal changes, L&I has updated the state rules regarding overtime exempt employees. Those changes to the state exempt salary threshold and the job duties test took effect on July 1, 2020.
The state has changed its job duties test to more closely align with the federal language, and has updated the salary threshold. However, the federal threshold will be more favorable and in effect for all of 2020. Employers will have to meet the state threshold requirement beginning Jan. 1, 2021.
L&I investigates all workplace rights complaints. More information about wage and hour laws and workplace rights is available on L&I's webpage. Employers and workers may also call 360-902-5316 or 1-866-219-7321.