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Washington Minimum Wage Law

Filed under Managing the Workplace. Fact checked on October 10, 2013.

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Employers in Washington must conform with these state rules regarding the minimum wage paid to employees.

Effective January 1, 2014, employees who are 18 years of age and older must be paid at least $9.32 per hour in Washington ($9.19 per hour for 2013; $9.04 per hour for 2012). This rate may increase via inflation adjustments annually.

Washington's minimum wage law applies to employees, except individuals employed:

  • as hand harvest laborers who are paid on a piece-rate basis in an operation that customarily pays on a piece-rate basis in the region of employment, who commute daily from their homes and who have been employed in agriculture less than 13 weeks during the preceding calendar year
  • in casual labor in or about a private home doing work not performed in the course of an employer's trade, business or profession
  • in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity or as an outside salesperson;
  • By a governmental agency
  • in activities of educational, charitable, religious or nonprofit organizations where no employer-employee relationship exists
  • as newspaper carriers or vendors
  • by any carrier subject to regulation by the Interstate Commerce Act
  • in forest protection or fire prevention activities
  • by a charitable institution charged with child care responsibilities or providing recreational opportunities for young people or members of the armed forces of the United States
  • in duties requiring that the employee reside or sleep at the place of employment, or otherwise spend a substantial portion of work time subject to call, while not engaged in the performance of active duties
  • while a resident, inmate or patient of a state, county or municipal correctional, detention, treatment or rehabilitative institution
  • while holding a public elective or appointive office of the state, any county, city, town, municipal corporation or quasi municipal corporation, political subdivision or instrumentality, or as an employee of the state legislature
  • as vessel-operating crews of the Washington state ferries operated by the state highway commission
  • as a seaman on a foreign vessel

Special Wage Rate Rules

Minors. Workers who are 14 or 15-years-old may be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage.

Authorized lower rates. The director of the Department of Labor and Industries may issue a special certificate authorizing an employer to pay less than the applicable minimum wage rate to:

  • an employee who is physically or mentally handicapped to such a degree that he or she is unable to obtain employment in a competitive labor market, at a rate designed to adequately reflect the employee's earning capacity;
  • a trainee or learner not subject to the jurisdiction of the Washington state apprenticeship and training council, at 85 percent of the applicable minimum wage rate; and
  • student-learners, at 75 percent of the applicable minimum wage rate.

Salaried workers. The payment of a salary does not in and of itself exempt a worker from minimum wage and overtime requirements.

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