Minimum Wage

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In November 2016, Washington voters approved Initiative I-1433 which will increase the state minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020 and establish paid sick leave requirements.  Washington’s minimum wage will increase $1.53 to $11.00 an hour on Jan. 1, 2017.


Seattle, Tacoma, and the City of SeaTac have passed their own minimum wage laws, and employers in these cities must use the local minimum wage rate as long as it is higher than the state minimum. In SeaTac, the higher local minimum wage only applies to some hospitality and transportation businesses.

In 2015 Seattle’s City Council approved a minimum wage ordinance that phase in a $15 minimum wage for all employees working within city limits. Large and small employers have different phase-in schedules, and large employers who offer healthcare benefits have been given longer to phase in the minimum wage. On Jan. 1, 2017 large employers (501 employees nationwide) must pay $13.50/hour if they also offer healthcare insurance and $15/hour if they do not offer healthcare coverage. Small employers must pay $13.50 if they do not pay $2/hour toward health insurance and/or the employee does not make $2/hour in tips. All other small employers must pay $11/hour.

In November 2015 Tacoma voters approved a $12 minimum wage to be phased in over two years. On Jan. 1, 2017, Tacoma employers are subject to the city’s $11.15 minimum wage, which is 15 cents higher than the state’s minimum wage. The wage law applies to almost all employees who work 80 or more hours per year within Tacoma city limits.

In 2013, SeaTac voters narrowly approved an initiative that imposes a $15 minimum wage on certain hospitality and transportation businesses. The initiative also called for annual adjustments to the wage based on the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, CPI-W, or a successor index, for the twelve (12) months prior to each September 1st as calculated by the United States Department of Labor. On Jan. 1, 2017, businesses subject to SeaTac’s Employment Standards Ordinance must increase their minimum wage to $15.35.