Washington State Overtime Laws

San Diego Labor Class Actions

Whether you are an employee in the agriculture, financial, construction, or medical sectors in the state of Washington, it is critical to be aware of the current pay laws and overtime rules to know your rights as a worker under state law. Hardworking and law-abiding citizens deserve to receive a proper wage from their employer and to be paid using straightforward and efficient pay methods. This means that logistical problems, such as a crash in the payroll system, are not a sufficient excuse to break state labor laws and not pay overtime and proper wages to employees.

A large portion of Washington employees do end up working more hours than a normal work week, and therefore it is critical for them to be aware of the Washington overtime laws. By understanding their rights, Washington employees can be sure that they are being recognized for their work and compensated directly. Workers must also be sure to stay updated on their rights, as laws are frequently introduced and modified within the state of Washington.

Understanding the Fundamentals: Washington Labor Laws

In Washington State, the Department of Labor and Industries presides over the legislation and enforcement of labor rules. Labor laws that they are in charge of monitoring and enforcing include:

  • Overtime laws
  • Minimum wage
  • Breaks
  • Sick leave
  • Vacation time

Within the past few years, they have made some significant changes to overtime laws.

Before, employers of businesses were only required to provide certain benefits, such as overtime, sick leave, and minimum wage payments, to a certain category of workers. However, after updating the law, a wider range of employees in Washington are now eligible for these benefits, such as workers in the agriculture sector.

Minimum Wage

The minimum wage amount is calculated every September for the following year by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is a regulatory body in the U.S. government. They use a benchmark called the Consumer Price Index, or CPI. For 2023, the minimum wage for Washington State is $15.74 per hour worked.

“White-Collar” Salaried Workers

There are some types of workers who are not entitled to overtime protection under state law. These are typically white-collar workers with higher-paying jobs and more influence in workplace politics. These include:

  • Executive workers
  • Administrative workers
  • Professional workers
  • A salesperson from outside of the state who is doing business with industries in Washington
  • A computer professional from outside of the state who is offering their services to industries based out of Washington

While these workers will not receive a guarantee for overtime pay, they are entitled to receive a minimum salary, which is discussed and negotiated before signing the employment contract. Under the most recent changes to the law, which started to go into effect in July 2020, this minimum salary will be 2 and a half times the amount of the minimum wage by 2028.

The salary is being raised in increments to reach this amount. Smaller companies that have fewer than 51 employees will have more time to meet this requirement. Since January 1, 2023, larger companies (with 51 or more employees) are required to pay 1.75 times the minimum wage of 2023, and smaller companies (with 50 or fewer employees) should pay 2 times the minimum wage of 2023.

Overtime Laws in Washington State

As an employee in the state of Washington, you are entitled to certain rights and privileges. It’s important to be aware of these so that you can collect the money and benefits that you are entitled to and ensure that your rights are protected.

Defining Work Week Hours

In the state of Washington, when an employer defines what the workweek is in a contract, it does not matter what day or time it starts at. All that must be considered is that the work week begins on the same day and time and lasts for 7 consecutive days. If the employer does not set out to define the timeframe of the workweek, it is automatically assigned to last from Sunday until Saturday.

If an employee works more than 8 hours in one day in a workweek, they are not necessarily entitled to overtime, unless it is on a state-approved project, such as building state infrastructure. The employee will start to receive overtime when they have worked over 40 hours in the defined workweek timeframe.

How to Calculate Overtime in Washington

When determining how much an employee will be paid for overtime, it’s important to remember that all the compensation that they receive while working must be summed up and divided by the number of hours that they have worked. By doing this, you will get the “employee hourly rate,” which can never be less than the yearly designated Washington State minimum wage.

Because employees might earn a different amount of money each week, it’s important to note that the employee’s hourly rate must be calculated for each defined workweek. The overtime rate will then always be the hourly rate calculated for the week times a multiplier factor of 1.5.

It’s equally important to note that, because the minimum wage in the state of Washington is $15.74 for each hour worked, and this amount multiplied by 1.5 is $23.61, every employee that has a right to overtime must be paid this minimum amount for extra hours worked.

Forms of compensation that must be considered when determining the employee’s hourly rate include:

  • Hourly Wages: This hourly amount paid to the employee must not be less than the current minimum wage of $15.74 per hour. If there are differing hourly wages being paid, they must all be considered.
  • Weekly, Biweekly, Monthly, or Yearly Amounts: Any amount that is considered a salary payment must be accounted for in the ‘employee hourly rate’ calculations.
  • Any Bonuses Agreed Upon in Advance: This does not include gifts or sudden ‘holiday bonuses’ that may be given at the end of the year, depending on the success of the company’s yearly profits.
  • Profit or Sales Commissions: This is typically a fixed percentage of a payment through a certain profit or sale that the employee is entitled to.
  • Any Flat Rate: When the employee is paid per project, or assignment of work that they complete, these payments will be accounted for as well.

It’s important to note that not all payments made to the employee will be considered when calculating the employee’s hourly rate. Payments such as tips and gratuities, which are additional payments directly from customers based on the quality of service, are not accounted for. Also, any paid time off that the employee receives compensation for, as well as out-of-pocket reimbursements, are not considered.

Who Is Entitled to Overtime in Washington State?

Salaried workers, who are specifically executive, administrative, and professional workers, are not entitled to overtime. The idea is that they have already been significantly compensated in their salary payments.

However, that does not mean that all salaried workers are not entitled to overtime. Any employee in Washington who receives a salary, and is not considered to be “white collar,” will have a right to overtime compensation under state law.

Generally, most workers who receive wages, commissions, or flat rates for their labor can get overtime benefits. Workers who are employed in the agriculture and dairy industries are entitled to overtime as well.

Alternatives to Overtime

For overtime compensation, the general rule is that employees need to be compensated monetarily. However, in some cases, such as for public workers in Washington, overtime can be compensated for with extra paid time off, otherwise called “comp time.” For each extra hour that the public employee works, they should be granted 1.5 hours of paid time off. It’s important to remember that, if you are working for a private company, you cannot be compensated for your overtime hours using comp time.

How to Know If You Can Get Compensated for Missing Overtime in Washington

If you are working extra hours, and putting your strongest effort into your company or public service job, it can be frustrating to not be compensated properly. By law in Washington State, you are entitled to 1.5 times your hourly rate after working over 40 hours in a workweek.

If you have not received this compensation for your overtime work, you are entitled to get paid for your losses. The payment that you can demand includes backpay, which is the payment of the overtime money already owed, as well as monetary compensation for damages.

When filing a complaint with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, it’s critical to know that all employees are protected from discrimination or harassment by their employers. The piece of legislation declaring these rights for workers is known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

You can submit a complaint within two years of not being paid proper overtime. Additionally, if the employer knew that they had to pay you but still chose not to do so, you have up to three years from the incident to file a complaint.

Breaking Down the Process: How to Get the Money You Deserve

If you find yourself in a situation where you are not being properly compensated for your overtime work, you have a right to initiate the process in Washington State to get your compensation. It’s critical to be sure that your profession is eligible for back pay in Washington. This includes employees that receive hourly wages as well as non-white-collar salaried employees. It’s important to speak with an employment lawyer if you are unsure where your job fits in.

After ensuring that you are eligible for overtime, it’s important to collect all evidence for your case, including pay slips and work logs. You will then submit all this information in the form of a claim to the Washington Department of Labor. If they do not resolve the situation, you can also take your employer to court. This means you will need to hire an employment lawyer and submit a civil claim to the courts. Such a claim can officially initiate the process of charging your employer for unpaid overtime.

Overtime Pay FAQs

Q: Is Overtime in Washington Considered to Be Working Over 8 Hours a Day?

A: In the state of Washington, overtime is not calculated based on the workday. Instead, it is based on the workweek. Therefore, if you work over 8 hours in a workday, you are not automatically entitled to receive overtime pay. However, once these hours add up to more than 40 hours in a work week, you are entitled to overtime pay if you fall under the correct employment category.

Q: What Overtime Rules Are New in Washington?

A: In Washington, several rules have been updated regarding overtime. One of the most significant is that overtime pay is slowly meant to increase to 2.5 times the amount of the yearly minimum wage benchmark by 2028. In addition, the categories of workers that are entitled to overtime pay are expanding to include employees working in agriculture.

Q: Is There a Cap on the Number of Hours I Can Work in a Day in Washington?

A: There is no specific number of hours in a workday that you cannot go over. However, this may change depending on the industry you are working in. For example, if you have a job in the healthcare sector, you may be required to take a certain number of timed breaks to stay alert during your shift.

Q: Is It Possible to Work Too Much Overtime in Washington State?

A: In the state of Washington, employees can work as many hours in the workweek as they agree to with their employer. However, once they work over the weekly limit of 40 hours in a work week, they are technically working overtime. Under Washington State law, employees must be paid 1.5 times the normal hourly rate for overtime.

Hire a Team Who Can Stand Up for You

If you are not being compensated for your hard work, and are unsure about how to approach the situation, our dedicated overtime lawyers at Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers can help you get the advice and representation that you need. Contact our office today to learn more about how you can secure your rights and compensation quickly and efficiently.