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 $0.50 to $12.00 an hour on Jan. 1, 2019.


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, 2018 large employers (501 employees nationwide) must pay $15.00/hour if they also offer healthcare insurance and $15.45/hour if they do not offer healthcare coverage. Small employers must pay $14.00 if they do not pay $2.50/hour toward health insurance and/or the employee does not make $2.50/hour in tips. All other small employers must pay $11.50/hour.

As of Jan. 1, 2019, all large employers in the city of Seattle must pay a $16-an-hour minimum wage. The Seattle Office of Labor Standards announced the change at the beginning of October 2018.

Large employers are those that employ more than 500 people worldwide. This rule affects all large employers starting in 2019, even those that contribute toward individual medical benefits.

Small employers, those who employ 500 or fewer people, must pay at least $15 an hour. If the small employer contributes at least $3 per hour toward an employee’s medical benefits and/or tips, that employer can pay a $12 minimum wage.

Seattle’s Minimum Wage Ordinance determines that the wage paid by large employers increases annually to reflect the rate of inflation measured by the Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton Area Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) for the 12-month period ending August 2018. By law, small employers must also pay workers a higher minimum wage.

In November 2015 Tacoma voters approved a $12 minimum wage to be phased in over two years. On Jan. 1, 2019, Tacoma employers are subject to the city’s $12.35 minimum wage, which is .35 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, 2019, businesses subject to SeaTac’s Employment Standards Ordinance must increase their minimum wage to $16.09.

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