Washington Minimum Wage Laws




Minimum wage

Washington’s current minimum wage is $9.47. WA Dept. of Labor and Industries: Minimum Wage

Washington minimum wage laws require an annual review of its minimum wage. The review must be completed by September 30 of each year. The minimum wage must be increased by the percentage the cost of living has changed from the prior September 1 to the September 1 in the year the review is conducted. The cost of living change is based on the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, CPI-W, or a successor index, as calculated by the U.S. Department of Labor. Any change to the minimum wage takes effect on January 1 of the following year. WA Code 49.46.020(b); WA Dept. of Labor: Minimum Wage.

Washington employers must also comply with federal minimum wage laws, which currently sets the federal minimum wage at $7.25. See FLSA: Minimum Wage.

If an employer chooses to pay employees minimum wage, the employer must pay those employees in accordance with the minimum wage law, either federal or state, that results in the employees being paid the higher wage. In most instances in Washington, the Washington minimum wage will apply as it generally guarantees a higher wage rate for employees than federal law.





Tip minimum wage

Washington does not have minimum wage for tipped employees that is lower than the standard minimum wage. Instead, those employees must be paid the standard minimum wage. WA Admin. Code 296-126-022.



Tip pooling and sharing

Washington minimum wage laws do not address whether an employer may require employees to participate in tip pooling or tip sharing arrangements.



Subminimum wage

Employees with disabilities

Washington minimum wage laws permit employers to pay employees with disabilities a subminimum wage rate that is less than the standard minimum wage if they have obtained a special certificate from Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries to do so. The Department of Labor and Industries may only issue special certificates to employers who apply for a special certificate in good faith. The special certificate includes the subminimum wage the employer may pay the disabled employee and the period of time for which it the certificate is valid. WA Code 49.46.040; WA Admin. Code 296-126-010; WA Admin. Code 296-128-050-090.



Trainees

Washington minimum wage laws permit employers to pay trainees a subminimum wage rate that is less than the standard minimum wage if they have obtained a special certificate from Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries to do so. The Department of Labor and Industries may only issue special certificates to employers who apply for a special certificate in good faith. The special certificate includes the subminimum wage the employer may pay the trainee and the period of time for which it the certificate is valid. WA Code 49.46.040; WA Admin. Code 296-126-010.



Apprentices

Washington minimum wage laws permit employers to pay apprentices a subminimum wage rate that is less than the standard minimum wage if they have obtained a special certificate from Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries to do so. The Department of Labor and Industries may only issue special certificates to employers who apply for a special certificate in good faith. The special certificate includes the subminimum wage the employer may pay the learner and the period of time for which it the certificate is valid. WA Code 49.46.040; WA Admin. Code 296-128-225-250.



Learners

Washington minimum wage laws permit employers to pay learners a subminimum wage rate that is no less than 85 percent lower than the standard minimum wage if they have obtained a special certificate from Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries to do so. A learner is defined as an individual whose total experience in an authorized learner occupation is less than the period of time allowed as a learning period for that occupation in a learner certificate issued by the Department of Labor and Industries pursuant to regulations issued by that department. WA Admin. Code 296-126-002(7) The Department of Labor and Industries may only issue special certificates to employers who apply for a special certificate in good faith. The special certificate includes the subminimum wage the employer may pay the learner and the period of time for which it the certificate is valid. WA Code 49.46.040; WA Admin. Code 296-126-010; WA Admin. Code 296-126-015(2); WA Admin. Code 296-128-100-150.



Student learners

Washington minimum wage laws permit employers to pay student learners a subminimum wage rate that is no less than 75 percent lower than the standard minimum wage if they have obtained a special certificate from Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries to do so. A student learner is defined as an individual who is enrolled in a bona fide vocational training program that is accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Office of Education, or that is authorized and approved by the Washington state commission for vocational education, and who works part-time in a definitely organized plan of instruction. WA Admin. Code 296-126-002(6) The Department of Labor and Industries may only issue special certificates to employers who apply for a special certificate in good faith. The special certificate includes the subminimum wage the employer may pay the student learner and the period of time for which it the certificate is valid. WA Code 49.46.040; WA Admin. Code 296-126-010; WA Admin. Code 296-126-015(3); WA Admin. Code 296-128-175-215.



Student workers

Washington minimum wage laws permit employers to pay student workers a wage rate that is no less than 75 percent lower than the standard minimum wage if they have obtained a special certificate from Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries to do so. A student worker is defined as a student who attends a bona fide educational program in an educational institution and who works on a part-time basis for the educational institution to help defray school expenses. The Department of Labor and Industries may only issue special certificates to employers who apply for a special certificate in good faith. The special certificate includes the subminimum wage the employer may pay the student and the period of time for which it the certificate is valid. WA Code 49.46.040; WA Admin. Code 296-128-275-315.