Category Archives: Wages

Minimum wage in Washington to increase 6 cents in 2017

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) announced today that the state’s minimum wage will increase 6 cents in 2017. The wage will rise to $9.53 an hour on Jan. 1.

L&I is responsible for calculating the state’s minimum wage each year in September as required under Initiative 688, which voters approved in 1998. The new wage is up from the 2016 minimum wage of $9.47 per hour. Some jurisdictions have approved local minimum wages that are higher than the state’s, including Seattle, Sea-Tac, and Tacoma.

The change reflects a 0.7 percent increase in the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) over the last 12 months ending Aug. 31. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced the change this month. The index represents a “shopping basket” of goods needed for everyday living, including groceries, gas, and clothing.

The increase in the minimum wage is expected to affect nearly 51,000 workers, based on full-time equivalent jobs, according to theWashington State Employment Security Department.

The minimum wage applies to all jobs, including those in agriculture. Workers under 16 can be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage, or $8.10 an hour, in 2017.

L&I provides materials to help employers inform workers about minimum wage and their rights as workers. Employers are required to post a “Your Rights as a Worker” poster in the workplace, which supplies general information about employment issues. An optional minimum wage poster is also available for employers. Both are free from L&I.

L&I enforces the state’s wage-and-hour laws. The agency investigates all wage-payment complaints. More information on Washington’s minimum wage is available on L&I’s wages webpage. Employers and workers may also call 360-902-5316 or 1-866-219-7321.


Photo credit: Denis Bocquet via / CC BY

The New Overtime Rule – Impacts on Workers’ Comp Claims

The Overtime Rule

In 2014, President Obama directed the Secretary of Labor to update the overtime regulations to reflect the original intent of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and to simplify and modernize the rules so they’re easier for workers and businesses to understand and apply. The department has issued a final rule that will put more money in the pockets of middle class workers – or give them more free time.

The final rule will:

  • Raise the salary threshold indicating eligibility from $455/week to $913 ($47,476 per year), ensuring protections to 4.2 million workers.

  • Automatically update the salary threshold every three years, based on wage growth over time, increasing predictability.

  • Strengthen overtime protections for salaried workers already entitled to overtime.

  • Provide greater clarity for workers and employers.

Overtime updates will extend protections to 4.2 million workers across the country. The final rule will become effective on December 1, 2016, giving employers more than six months to prepare. The final rule does not make any changes to the duties test for executive, administrative and professional employees.

Impact on Workers’ Compensation Claims

Workers’ compensation benefits paid to an injured worker while they are unable to return to work after an injury are paid based on a percentage of the wages earned prior to the injury.  In Washington State, overtime hours are included in the benefit rate calculation but only at the base hourly wage.  This only applies to hours that are paid as overtime – unpaid hours are not counted.  When this new overtime rule takes effect, an estimated 76,000 people in Washington State will be eligible to receive overtime pay.  If any of these workers are injured on the job, their compensation rate will include the overtime hours they worked prior to the injury.


No Increase to Washington’s Minimum Wage in 2016

Washington state’s minimum wage will stay the same in 2016 — $9.47 per hour — because the national Consumer Price Index did not increase.

Changes to the minimum wage are based on the nationwide Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) for the 12 months ending each Aug. 31. The index represents a shopping basket of goods needed for everyday living, including groceries, gas and clothing. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CPI-W decreased 0.3 percent between August 2014 and August 2015.

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) announces the state’s minimum wage each year in September as required under Initiative 688, which Washington voters approved in 1998. Under the law, the minimum wage can’t be decreased.

It’s the second time the state minimum wage has remained flat since passage of the initiative. The last time was in 2010.

An estimated 67,000 full-time equivalent wage jobs are affected, according to the state Employment Security Department.

For years, Washington’s minimum wage has been the highest in the country. That will change Jan. 1, 2016, when minimum wage in California and Massachusetts will reach $10 per hour.

Washington’s minimum wage applies to workers in both agricultural and non-agricultural jobs. Youth ages 14-15 may be paid 85 percent of the adult wage, $8.05 per hour.

L&I provides a minimum wage poster for employers to post if they wish. Employers are required to post the “Your Rights as a Worker” poster, which provides general information about employment issues. The posters are available from L&I free of charge.

L&I enforces the state’s wage-and-hour laws. The agency investigates all wage-payment complaints it receives, as required by state law. More information on Washington’s minimum wage is available at Employers and workers also may call 360-902-5316 or 1-866-219-7321.


Photo credit: Denis Bocquet / Foter / CC BY

“Minimum wage?!” Singapore Clarke Quay Elgin Bridge underpass 2013 (by RSCLS street art collective)