Posted By PayNW December 26, 2023

In order to properly compensate employees and process payroll accurately and fairly, employers need to understand what time is considered "hours worked" in Washington State.

Here is everything you need to know on what time is compensated in Washington State.

Hours Worked in Washington State

Employees in Washington State need to be compensated for all hours worked. However, in order to fairly process payroll in Washington State employers need to understand "what time is considered hours worked in Washington State?". 

What Time Is Compensated?

Employers are required to pay employees for all work performed, at their agreed rate. This rate may be an hourly wage, salary, flat rate, piece rate, commission, etc. or a combination, but must satisfy Washington State Minimum Wage Law.

When employees are paid at an hourly rate, however, employers need to understand what time is considered "hours worked" so that they may properly compensate employees for what they have earned. 

Under Washington Labor Law, “Hours worked” is defined as, “all hours during which the employee is authorized or required, known or reasonably believed by the employer to be on the premises or at a prescribed workplace.”

Examples of hours worked in Washington include:

  • Travel time
  • Required training and meeting time,
  • Wait time
  • On-call time
  • Time for putting on and taking off uniforms
  • Time for putting on and taking off personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Rest breaks

Under Washington State break laws, meal periods / meal breaks should also be considered "hours worked" if the break is paid

Meal breaks are paid in Washington State if one of the below apply: 

  • The employee is required to remain on duty during their meal period
  • The employee is called back to work during their break
  • The employee is required to remain on-call on the premises or work site in the interest of the employer, even if they are not called back to duty

Unauthorized Work Hours in Washington

Unauthorized hours or unapproved overtime does count as hours worked in Washington State, and such time must be compensated. 

However, the employee can be subject to discipline for doing so.

Volunteer Work and "Off-the-Clock" Work

In Washington State, employees may not perform volunteer or "free work" for a for-profit company.

There are some instances where work may be unpaid, in regards to interns, training, apprenticeships, and educational, charitable, religious, state or local government, and non-profit volunteering. 

Employees are also prohibited from working off the clock, whether by choice or employer requirement.

Get Help with Washington Payroll

Businesses that are struggling with payroll processing, may want to reach out to a Washington Payroll Service Company for help. 

With modern payroll technology and services, employers can easily track hours worked and ensure that employees are paid accurately and fairly. 

For more information, check out our Washington Payroll solution, or contact us today. 

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