Seattle Minimum Wage

Seattle Minimum Wage

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On June 2, 2014 the Seattle City Council voted to implement a city ordinance to increase the minimum wage. The ordinance gives employees in Seattle, a 61 percent wage increase. A rule-making process with stakeholders began in October 2014. Final rules were released in late March 2015.

We are working to ensure our member restaurants have support navigating the new $15 minimum wage. We continue to evaluate its impacts, but there is evidence the business model is evolving in Seattle to address the new minimum wage and other ordinances within the city.  You can read the FAQ about the Seattle minimum wage ordinance provided by the Seattle Department of Labor Standards here.

Employees are our greatest asset and we are committed to complying with the law while seeking to balance equality for our employees who work in the dining room and the kitchen.

Large/Small Employer Timetables (click images to enlarge)

UW Study

From 2015 to 2016, the University of Washington was hired to do a study of impacts the increased wage had on the city. According to the report, Seattle businesses made these changes:

  • 62% raised prices on goods/services,
  • 30% added service charges or fees,
  • 30% reduced their number of employees, and
  • 11% left Seattle.

Service Charges

Implementing services charges is one solution many businesses have considered. If you are considering a service charge please read our HERO manual page 35-37. These two pages offer in-depth answers to tricky questions and what the legal requirements are regarding service charges. The HERO manual is a free membership benefit. You can also read our article and FAQ on service charges (with examples).

How some restaurants in Washington are handling service charges:

 – Maximilien Service Charge Webpost

 – Tom Douglas Service Charge Model Letter (PDF)

 – Ivar’s Explanation of Cost Increase and Tipping Changes

 – Iron Rabbit goes Tipless and Institutes a Service Charge (article)


Past e-edition articles:

1. Tips

2. Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 employers

3. Service Charges

4. Posting Requirements

5. More on Tips

6. Other Compensation: Health Care

7. Other Compensation: Commissions & Bonuses

8. Crash Course


– Minimum Wage Guide

– Exhibit 1 – Seattle wage law poster (English, Spanish, Amharic)

– Exhibit 2 – Sample letter to employees at time of hire

– Exhibit 3 – Sample letter to current employees

– Exhibit 4 – Schedule 1 (large) employers wage payment chart

– Exhibit 5 – Schedule 2 (small) employers wage payment chart

– Exhibit 6 – State overtime guide

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