December 5, 2016
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Minimum wage set to increase to $11 an hour on Jan. 1

Washington's minimum wage will increase to $11 an hour on Jan. 1 as part of the march upward to $13.50 an hour in Initiative 1433, which won at the ballot box last month.

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has been receiving many calls for clarity on the new law. They answer some of the most frequently asked questions here. A few notable points:

  • The new $11 hourly minimum wage applies to all jobs, including agricultural. Workers under age 16 can be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage, or $9.35 per hour.
  • In cities with higher minimum wage ordinances, like Seattle, Tacoma and SeaTac, the local city ordinance and its higher wage rate will apply, as long as it is higher than the state minimum.
  • The minimum wage will continue to increase to the initiative-mandated $13.50 an hour by 2020. After it hits that level, L&I will resume calculating annual increases to the minimum wage based on inflation, a process it began after passage of the 1998 minimum wage initiative.

I-1433 also requires employers to pay for safe and sick leave. Those provisions will take effect starting Jan. 1, 2018. L&I will adopt rules to enforce the new requirement, including “…procedures for notification to employees and reporting regarding sick leave, and protecting employees from retaliation for the lawful use of sick leave…”

AWB invited L&I Director Joel Sacks to talk with members about that rulemaking process. He spoke last week to a full room at AWB's office and to dozens more employers on the phone.

For more about what's ahead, contact Bob Battles, AWB government affairs director for wage and hour issues.

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