Wage and hour laws are designed to regulate how many hours per day employees spend working and how much they are paid for their employment. These laws are designed to guide employers through issues including minimum wage, overtime and the length and method that employees must be granted breaks.
Minimum Wage in Washington
The minimum wage for employees in Washington is $9.47, which is more than $2.00 higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. This wage applies to workers holding agricultural jobs as well as non-agricultural positions. Washington employees who are 14 or 15 years of age may be paid $8.05 per hour. With a few exceptions, employees in Washington must be paid at least the minimum wage for all “hours worked” as defined by state law, which in this case refers to any time spent opening or closing a business or attending mandatory meetings or trainings.
Minimum Wage of Tipped Workers: Washington is one of seven states that do not have separate minimum wage standards for employees who receive tips. Thus, tipped employees must receive at least $9.47 per hour, regardless of how much they receive in tips. This differs from the federal minimum wage for tipped employees, which is $2.13 provided that, when combined with tips, an employee’s income either equals or exceeds $7.25.
Does Minimum Wage Apply to Me: Washington employers must pay at least $9.45 to those in agricultural and non-agricultural positions. The exception to this is employees who receive salary pay and meet the criteria for “executive, administrative or professional” as defined by Washington’s Departments of Labor and Industries Employment Standards Program.
When Are Raises Required: Generally, Washington employers are not required to give raises. The exception is when an employee is earning the state’s minimum wage, in which case employers must adjust the wage each year on the first of January with respect to inflation.
Work Hours in Washington
There are no set regulations in Washington or federally that limit the number of hours legal adults may work in a day or week. However, 14 and 15-year-olds in the state are limited to three hours of work per day during school weeks for a maximum of six days per week and eight-hour days during non-school weeks, also for a maximum of six days per week. Teens who are 16 or 17 years of age may work four-hour days six days per week during school weeks and eight-hour days during non-school weeks. With a special variance, 16 and 17-year-olds may work as many as six hours a day during school weeks and up to eight hours on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays during the school year.
Paying Overtime: In the state of Washington and federally, those who work more than 40 hours within a seven-day workweek must receive overtime pay at one-and-a-half times their hourly wage. Several categories of employees are excluded or subject to specific overtime rules and regulations, such as seasonal employees and those employed on farms or ranches.
Guaranteed Breaks and Meals: Under Washington law, employees must receive a 10-minute break for every four hours worked. The break must be taken, at latest, at the end of the third hour. For shifts that exceed five hours, a 30-minute meal period must be granted, which must begin between two and five hours into a shift. Breastfeeding mothers are allowed a private place to take reasonable, unpaid breaks for up to a year after the birth of a child.
Paid Time-off and Sick Pay: Washington’s employers are not required by law to pay for holidays, sick days, vacation days or bereavement leave.
Notice Period for Employee Termination: Neither the state of Washington nor federal guidelines require an employer to grant an employee notice prior to termination.
Plant Closings & Layoffs: Washington employers must follow the plant closing and layoff guidelines outlined by the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. WARN requires that businesses employing more than 100 must give a notification of closings or layoffs at least 60 days prior.
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