Posted By PayNW October 24, 2023
All workers in Washington State (WA) are entitled to receive an hourly Minimum Wage rate according to Washington Labor Laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This Minimum Wage requirement includes a special wage rate for minors. In addition, the cities of Seattle and SeaTac have their own minimum wage as well.
In areas outside Seattle and SeaTac, the Washington State Minimum Wage is $15.74 per hour, effective as of 01/01/2023. Every September, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries evaluates the cost-of-living and adjust the minimum wage accordingly. Each year, a minimum wage update will be announced on September 30th, and take effect on January 1st of the following year.
Important to note for Washington State Employers is that all tips and services charges must be paid to the employee, and they can not be counted toward an employee's hourly minimum wage.
Employers must also ensure they understand Federal Overtime-Exempt requirements as well as state overtime requirements, in order to fully manage compliance with wage and payroll requirements.
Washington State Minimum Wage in 2024
As of January 1st, 2024 Washington State Minimum Wage will increase to $16.28 per hour. Both Seattle and SeaTac will also be increasing the local minimum wage rate for 2024 (see below sections).
Additionally, Tukwila will set its own minimum wage standard as of January 1st, 2024.
WA Minimum Wage Qualifications
Most agricultural and non-agricultural jobs qualify for the minimum wage. However, there are certain exemptions.
Exemptions to WA Minimum Wage
Employers can apply for a sub-minimum wage certificate for the following types of workers:
- Certificated on-the-job learners (no less than 85%)
- Certificated student workers and student learners (no less than 75%)
- Certificated workers with disabilities
- Certain apprentices
- Certain minors
- Jobs exempt from the Minimum Wage Act
Special Wage Rate for Minors
In Washington State, employees who are between the ages of 14 and 15 may be compensated at a wage rate of no less than 85% of the minimum wage.
Local Washington State Minimum Wage Rates
The cities of Seattle and SeaTac currently have separate minimum wage rates, and the city of Tukwila will as well, starting July 2023.
Seattle Minimum Wage
The Seattle Minimum Wage is $18.69 per hour, effective as of 01/01/2023 for all businesses with 501 or more employees (large employers).
For Seattle businesses with 500 employees or less (small employers), employers may compensate employees at a wage rate of $16.50 per hour, if the employer pays $2.19 per hour toward medical benefits, or the employee earns at least that much per hour in tips.
Update 10.24.23: As of January 1st, 2024 Seattle minimum wage will increase to $19.97 per hour for large employers. Small employers who qualify for the lower wage rate (threshold increased to $2.72 per hour) will have a minimum wage rate of $17.25.
SeaTac Minimum Wage
The SeaTac Minimum Wage is $19.06 per hour for Hospitality and Transportation Industry employers only, as of 01/01/2023.
Update 10.24.23: The 2024 SeaTac minimum wage rate for hospitality and transportation industry workers only, will increase to $19.71 on January 1st, 2024.
Tukwila Minimum Wage
Tukwila Minimum Wage applies to employers who have 15 or more workers worldwide and earn more than $2 million in annual gross revenue in Tukwila.
The minimum wage differs depending on employer size. For employers with over 500 employees, the minimum wage is $20.29 per hour.
For mid-sized employers, (employers covered under the law with 500 employees or fewer) the minimum wage is $18.29 per hour. However, as of July 1st, 2024, the minimum wage for Tukwila mid-sized employers will increase to $19.29 per hour.
Staying Prepared for Washington State Minimum Wage Updates
If the business you work in is located in Washington State, or even more importantly Seattle, SeaTac, or Tukwila, it is going to need to prepare for an increase in the minimum wage every year.
Companies with a plethora of workers who are compensated at the minimum wage will experience a rise in staffing costs, which can be disruptive to business operations if unprepared.
Here are some things the business should do to prepare for the future Washington State Minimum Wage Updates:
Get Help with WA Minimum Wage Compliance
Managing compliance with minimum wage might seem straightforward initially, "pay employees at least this much", but in a state like Washington with varying rules depending on employee type and business location, things can get tricky.
Business that are struggling with minimum wage compliance may want to consider reaching out to a Washington Payroll company for assistance.