The election on November 8, 2016 saw the confirmation of Initiative 1433, which will increase the Washington State minimum wage to $13.50 an hour by 2020. Similar to the Seattle minimum wage increase, this will be a gradual transition spread from year to year. Starting January 1 of each consecutive year, the Washington State minimum wage will increase from $9.47 to $11 an hour in 2017, $11.50 in 2018, $12 in 2019, and $13.50 in 2020.
The existing plan for Seattle minimum wage increases will not be affected by this new ordinance. Seattle is still on track to see a $15 minimum wage for larger businesses (500 employees or more) by 2017 and for smaller businesses (500 employees or fewer) by 2021.
Initiative 1433 also introduced new legislation regarding paid sick leave for Washington workers. Starting in 2018, for every 40 hours worked, employees will earn 1 hour of sick leave while simultaneously accruing paid time off. This new provision aims to prevent workers from having to choose between resting while sick or going to work sick to avoid losing money.
While changing pay rules for Washington State will hopefully improve long-term employee productivity and well-being, they can be difficult to navigate. We always encourage our clients to check in after elections with employment matters on the ballot to make sure they remain in compliance with state and local provisions, and for employers outside of Seattle, now may be a good time.
If you have specific questions regarding business compliance with state and local revisions, you can follow up with Noah Williams at (206) 624-6271.