The 2019 Minimum Wage in the state of Washington is $12 per hour. Washington employers must pay most employees at least the minimum wage for every hour worked.

Local Minimum Wage Rates

Some local jurisdictions have higher minimum wage rates and different labor rules than Washington state. The more generous minimum wage may apply in these localities:

Who Qualifies For Minimum Wage?

Most agricultural and non-agricultural jobs qualify for the minimum wage.

Employers must pay employees the minimum wage for all hours worked as defined by state law. Hours worked includes opening and closing a business, required trainings, and meetings.

Employers can also pay some workers less than the state minimum wage, including:

  • Minors 14 to 15 years old (no less than 85% of minimum wage).
  • Workers who meet certain criteria (see below).
  • Jobs that are exempt from the Minimum Wage Act.

Employers can apply for a sub-minimum wage certificate in the following areas:

  • Certificated on-the-job learners (no less than 85% of minimum wage).
  • Certificated student workers and student learners (no less than 75% of minimum wage).
  • Certificated workers with disabilities.
  • Certain apprentices.

Future Minimum Wage

The Washington state minimum wage will increase to:

  • $13.50/hr. in 2020.

Starting in Sept. 2020, L&I will make a cost-of-living adjustment to the minimum wage based on the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). This new minimum wage will take effect Jan 1, 2021, and yearly thereafter.

Tips and Service Charges

Employers must pay all tips and service charges to employees, as defined under the Minimum Wage Act (RCW 49.46.020(3)).

Businesses may not use tips and service charges paid to an employee as part of an employee’s hourly minimum wage.

For additional information on Tips and Service charges, see policy ES.A.12.

What if I need to make a wage complaint against my employer?

You have the right to file a workplace rights complaint if you are owed:

You also have the right to file a complaint if you feel your employer has retaliated against you. Retaliation complaints must be filed within 180 days of the alleged retaliatory action.

Retaliation under the Minimum Wage Act

The Minimum Wage Act prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee for exercising any of their rights under the act.

If an employee feels their rights have been violated and files or intends to file a complaint, or if they discuss potential violations of their rights with their employer, the employer cannot take adverse actions against that employee. Adverse actions include:

  • Denying use of or delaying payment for
    • Paid sick leave
    • Minimum wages
    • Overtime wages
    • Tips and service charges
  • Terminating, suspending, demoting, or denying a promotion
  • Reducing hours or altering the employee’s work schedule
  • Reducing the employee’s rate of pay
  • Threatening to take, or taking action, based upon the immigration status of an employee or an employee’s family member
  • Subjecting the employee to discipline, including write-ups, verbal warnings, points, etc.

Related Resources

Minimum Wage Resources