Washington State Will Increase Minimum Wage in 2017 and Beyond

Washington State passed into law Initiative 1433, known as Raise Up Washington, which will increase the minimum wage beginning in 2017 and require all employers to provide sick leave for full-time and seasonal employees beginning in 2018.

Minimum Wage Increases

The initiative will increase the minimum wage each January 1 over a four-year period. After that period, future increases will reflect changes to the consumer price index (CPI). The new law requires all tips and gratuities be paid in addition to the employee’s hourly minimum wage—it shouldn’t count toward the employee’s salary.

Paid Sick Leave

Effective January 1, 2018, an employee will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours of work beginning on the first day of employment. A full-time employee working 40 hours per week (2,080 hours per year) will accrue 6.5 days of sick leave per year. Hourly employees may accrue more or less than that depending upon actual hours worked. 

The new law entitles an employee to begin using accrued sick leave on the 90th day after his or her start of employment, and unused sick leave can carry over to the following year. However, an employer may limit an employee to a maximum of 40 hours of carry over.

An employer is required to:

  • Pay for sick leave at the greater of the minimum hourly wage rate or the employee’s normal hourly compensation
  • Report the amount of paid sick leave available to the employee through regular notification

If employment ceases, the employer isn’t required to pay out an employee’s unused leave. However, if the employee is rehired within 12 months, previously accrued sick leave is reinstated, and the previous period of employment is counted when determining the employee's eligibility to use paid sick leave. 

Meanwhile, an employer may require employees to:

  • Give reasonable notice when they’ll be absent from work, but it shouldn’t interfere with an employee's lawful use of paid sick leave.
  • Verify within a reasonable period of time during or after the paid sick leave that it’s for an authorized purpose if the absence exceeds three days. Verification shouldn’t result in an unreasonable burden or expense on the employee or exceed privacy or verification requirements otherwise established by law.

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If you have questions about how to prepare for this change or how it might affect your organization, contact your Moss Adams professional.

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