Washington – Wage Payment Laws



Frequency of Wage Payments

An employer must pay employees at least once per month on established paydays. An employer must pay employees within 10 days of the end of a pay period. These requirements may be altered by a collective bargaining agreement. If an employer is unable to determine the overtime wages due by the established payday, the employer must pay the wages as soon as the overtime can be determined. WA Admin. Code 296-126-023; WA Admin. Code 296-128-035; WA Admin. Code 296-131-010


Manner of Wage Payments

An employer may pay an employee by:

  • cash,
  • check convertible into cash on demand at full face value, and
  • by direct deposit, so long as there is no cost to the employee.

WA Statute 49.46.010; WA Admin. Policy ES.A.2


Direct Deposit

An employer may require an employee to participate in direct deposit as long as there is no cost to the employee. WA Admin. Policy ES.A.2; WA Dept. of Labor and Industries: Getting Paid

Payroll Card

An employer may require an employee to be paid by payroll card as long as there is no cost to the employee. WA Admin. Policy ES.A.2; WA Dept. of Labor and Industries: Getting Paid


Payment upon Separation from Employment

An employer must pay an employee who is discharged or terminated, who quits or resigns, or who is laid off, by the end of the established pay period. This requirement may be altered by a collective bargaining agreement. WA Statute 49.48.010

Employees who are suspended or resigns due to a labor dispute (strike)

Washington has no law regarding when an employer must pay an employee who has resigned due to a labor dispute. Presumably, an employer would pay an employee who resigns employment due to a labor dispute by the end of the established pay period.


Wages in Dispute

Washington does not have any laws requiring an employer to pay an employee wages conceded to be due when involved in a wage dispute with the employee.


Deductions from Wages

Final paychecks

Washington labor laws allow employer to make the following deductions from an employee’s final wages which are permitted to reduce the employee’s final gross wages below the state minimum wage that is in effect at the time the work is performed:

  • Required by state or federal law; or
  • For medical, surgical, or hospital care or service. No deductions may be made for these services if covered under WA Statute 51.48.050; or
  • To satisfy a court order, judgment, wage attachment, trustee process, bankruptcy proceeding, or payroll deduction notice for child support payments.

Employers may make the following deductions from an employee’s final wages if the employee specifically agree orally or in writing to the deduction and the deduction may reduce the employee’s final gross wages below the state minimum wage that is in effect at the time the work is performed:

  • For pension, medical, dental, or other benefit plans when such agreements have been specifically agreed upon orally or in writing in advance by the employee and employer.
  • For a payment to a creditor or third party if the employee authorizes it orally or in writing in advance to pay a sum for the benefit of the employee. The creditor or third party can be the employer of the employee.

Employers may make the following deductions from an employee’s final wages but only when the incidents occur in the final pay period (deductions for incidents for prior pay periods are not permitted) and they may not reduce the employee’s final check below the applicable minimum wage:

  • For acceptance of a bad check or credit card, if it can be shown that the employee accepted the check or credit card in violation of procedures previously made known to the employee by the employer; or
  • For any cash shortage from a cash register, drawer or portable depository provided for that purpose, if it can be shown that the employee has sole access to the cash and has participated in the cash accounting at the beginning of the employee’s shift and again at the end of said shift; or
  • For any cash shortage, walkout (failure of customer to pay), breakage, or loss of equipment, if it can be shown that the shortage, walkout, breakage or loss was caused by a dishonest or willful act of the employee; or
  • Deductions taken due to alleged employee theft are permissible only if it can be shown that the employee’s intent was to deprive and that the employer filed a police report.

Employers are responsible to prove the existence of any agreement regarding deductions. Also, employers are required to identify and record all wage deductions openly and clearly in employee payroll records.

WA Statute 49.48.010; WA Admin. Code 296-126-025

Any time prior to final paychecks

An employer may make the following deduction from an employee’s wages at any time during employment:

  • Required state and federal taxes, including the worker’s share of workers’ compensation premiums.
  • For medical, surgical, or hospital care or service; or
  • To satisfy a court order, judgment, wage attachment, trustee process, bankruptcy proceeding, or payroll deduction notice for child support payments; or
  • The employee expressly authorizes the deduction in writing and in advance for a lawful purpose for the benefit of the employee. These deductions may reduce the employee’s gross wages below the state minimum wage.

Neither the employer nor any person acting in the interest of the employer can derive any financial profit or benefit from any of the permitted deductions.

An employer charging an employees reasonable interest for a loan or credit extended to the employee is not considered to be of financial benefit to the employer. Note: Employers are advised to check with the United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division and the Internal Revenue Service regarding application of federal laws on charging interest.

Also, employers are required to identify and record all wage deductions openly and clearly in employee payroll records.

WA Statute 49.52.060; WA Admin. Code 296-126-028


Uniforms, Tools, and Other Equipment Necessary for Employment

An employee and employer may agree orally or in writing that the employer may deduct the cost of uniforms provided by the employer if the uniforms are not returned by the employee at the time of termination. This type of deduction cannot reduce the employee’s wage below the state minimum wage. WA Admin. Code 296-126-025


Pre-hire Medical, Physical, or Drug Tests

Washington does not have any laws prohibiting an employer from requiring an applicant or employee to pay the cost of a medical examination or the cost of furnishing any records required by the employer as a condition of employment.


Notice of Wage Reduction

Washington does not have any laws addressing when or how an employer may reduce an employees wages or whether an employer must provide employees notice prior to instituting a wage reduction. Any wage reduction can only be applied to hours worked after the change and cannot be applied to hours already worked.


Statement of Wages (Pay Stub)

An employer must furnish to each employee at the time of payment of wages an itemized statement showing the pay basis (i.e., hours or days worked), rate or rates of pay, gross wages and all deductions for that pay period. WA Admin. Code 296-126-040


Record Keeping Requirements

An employer must keep for at least three (3) years a record of:

  • the name, address, and occupation of each employee,
  • dates of employment,
  • rate or rates of pay,
  • amount paid each pay period to each such employee and
  • the hours worked.

WA Admin. Code 296-126-050


Notice Requirements

Washington does not have any laws requiring employers to provide employees notice of wage rates, dates of pay, employment policies, fringe benefits, or other terms and conditions of employment.


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