The new year brought a raise to some hourly workers in Washington, who now must earn at least $13.69/hour, the second-highest minimum wage in the country. The District of Columbia has the highest, at $15/hour.
Twenty-nine states set their own minimum wage, from $8.65 in Florida to $13.50 in Massachusetts, but 16 states and Puerto Rico use the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour — from which it hasn’t budged since 2009. Five states — all in the southeast — don’t require any minimum pay rate for workers.
Some cities in Washington require workers to be paid more. In Seattle, the minimum is $16.69/hour, and in SeaTac, it’s $16.57/hour.
Washington workers earning minimum wage will receive $547.60 for a 40-hour workweek, or $28,475/year. The 2020 federal poverty level for a family of four was $12,760 for an individual and $26,200 for a family of four.
Still, not all workers in Washington are covered by the minimum requirements. Employers can pay youths 14 to 15 years old 85% of the minimum. Some student workers — who are getting vocational training or working at an educational institution to defray tuition — can be paid 75% of the minimum. Workers with disabilities must receive the minimum wage, since a policy that had allowed them to be paid less was changed in July.
Restaurant workers and others who receive tips must get the minimum wage. Any tips or service charges they receive are in addition to, and may not count toward, the employee’s hourly minimum pay.
While agricultural workers are often paid a piece rate, they still must earn at least the state’s minimum wage for every hour worked.
Most hourly workers in Washington must be paid overtime — one-and-a-half times their regular wages — for any work exceeding 40 hours in a week. Agricultural workers are typically not covered by overtime rules.
Almost all workers in Washington are covered by the state’s mandatory sick-leave policy. Workers accrue one day of paid leave per 40 hours of work that can be used when they are sick or need to care for a family member. A proclamation by Gov. Jay Inslee requiring employers to provide sick leave to agricultural workers so they could take time off or quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic (it also partially reimbursed the employers) expired in November.
The minimum wage will go up through cost-of-living increases every January.